History of South America

Inca Civilization - History of the Inca Civilization

The Incas were one of the most civilized peoples in America. They mainly comprised the Quechua, Aymara, Yunka tribes, etc., which, according to the Spaniards, formed the Empire of the Incas, a name derived from the ruling family belonging to the Quechua tribe, the main one in the empire. They inhabited the region now occupied by Ecuador, Peru, northern Chile, western Bolivia and northwest Argentina. More than ten million citizens had merged into this political and cultural unity that was of a high standard. Physically the Incas were of small stature, dark skin, varying from light brown to dark, straight black hair, almost beardless. As for the social and political organization according to the Spanish testimony, they were perfect, possessing a community spirit.

They adored the Sun reincarnated in each Inca or emperor, who was a son of the Great Sun, of this Thus the Emperor was considered god among the people. The dead were buried not only in temples, but also in tomb towers and caves (called Chullpas). The temples of the Incas were nothing more than larger dwellings and were built on the surfaces of the earth. One of the most outstanding aspects of Inca culture is the solution they gave to the problem of communications, which presented serious difficulties in the Andes region. They established a complex network of paths and a permanent body of messengers (Thiasques) in charge of transmitting the news. Practically the agriculture that had reached among them, remarkable development, demonstrated by the irrigation works.
The Incas used metals, copper, bronze, gold, silver, which aroused the greed of the conquerors.
In 1553, the country was conquered by Pizarro and submitted to the Spanish crown. The Inca culture was totally destroyed and, today, only ruins of its grandiose monuments, temples and palaces remain.

For a long time, historiography approached the Inca State as a "lost paradise", in which hunger, exploitation and violence did not exist. These facts stimulated the imagination of novelists, scholars and researchers, who sought to discover extraterrestrial influences or the construction of the first communist state in American lands.


The state maintained a tributary system that levied tribute to maintain the old and the sick, and to provide food in times of bad harvest, with a sovereign, who Inca ideology said was the son of the sun (the sun granted him divine protection and order Social).

It is really extraordinary that a civilization has spread for 4000 kilometers along the Andes Cordillera without having the wheel or a good waterway network to transport agricultural surpluses, which was what caused the emergence of civilizations in other parts, because the Incas with their engineering techniques made works that would be an arduous task even for modern engineering.

The Incas were excellent builders. Without the aid of mortar, they built walls so perfectly fitted that it was impossible to insert the blade of a knife between the stones. Thousands of kilometers of roads connected the four provinces or borders as they were called, to Cuzco, the capital, was superior to anything that existed at the time in Europe. While the smooth stone pavement might have been designed for vehicles, in a horseless and wheelless society everyone walked on foot. These roads crossed rivers by means of suspension bridges, they were so solid that many of them were still used in the 20th century.

A society that taxed people and not production must have a sophisticated control scheme. The Inca State knew the number of men, women and children of each ayllu, it knew the number of individuals it could count on to assemble an army without affecting production, it knew how much manpower was needed to build a bridge and where to request -there. He knew of the need for food, clothing, and weapons to sustain the mitamaes.

The secret of this accounting without computers are the quipos, logos, strings to which a multitude of little strings were tied, where different types of knots were made, like signs. The quipucamayucs were responsible for this accounting and if they made any mistake, either in the preparation or in the reading, they paid with death.

SUMMARY of Inca History

20,000 - 100 BC

About 20,000 years ago, hunting tribes that had crossed the Bering Strait headed south and eventually reached the land we now call South America. Around 5000 BC, inhabitants of mountainous regions began to grow food and began to live in permanent settlements.
Around 2000 BC, fishermen who inhabited the coast also began to build permanent dwellings. Around 1200 BC, the inhabitants of the coastal zone were already growing corn, weaving good quality clothes and making pottery.
At the same time, the first important civilization called Chavin appeared in the mountainous area. Around 100 BC, the northeast coast was a kingdom whose capital was Moche, and in the south there was another kingdom with a capital at Nazca.

100 BC - 1100 AD

The first civilization that flourished in the mountainous region had its capital at Tiahuanaku. Around 800 AD the inhabitants of tiahuanaku had already conquered the southern coast. In the year 1000 AD, Peru was a set of warlike tribes without powerful chiefs. It was the time when the Chimus empire also reigned.

1100 - 1430 AD

The Inca Manco Capac had settled in Cuzco. However, the tribes from the north had formed the Chimu kingdom on the northern coast. They built great cities, according to a rectangular plan, endowed with great stone walls.
In Cuzco, the Incas became more powerful. Manco's son Sinchi Roca, like his father, ruled half of Cuzco and did nothing to make the family more powerful. He encouraged mineral extraction and weaving and was a great patron of agriculture. But his son Capac Yuapanki, born when Sinchi Roca was already old:he expanded the Inca territory to the entire Cuzco.
The Inca Roca was the first to be called Sapa Inca (the Supreme Inca). Much of his reign was spent in constant disputes with the Chanca tribes. The Inca Roca succeeded Yahuar Huacac who was threatened by an alliance of mountain tribes. His son, Wiracocha, also suffered attacks, but managed to repel the invaders. However, he ended up fleeing Cuzco when the Chanca tribes endangered his kingdom.

1438 - 1493 A.D.

Wiracocha's son, Inca Yuapanki, succeeded him on the throne. He defeated the Chanca tribes, killed their king, and to strengthen his position in the mountainous area, proposed peace to the other tribes and offered Inca women to their leaders. He rebuilt Cuzco, making it the capital, and organized a system of government with Inca officials, who headed each tribe as a group of equal citizens within the empire.
When his son Topa Inca Yuapanki reached the age of 15 he sent him to the northern territory to increase his lands. He then annexed his empire to the Chimu after some psychological battles, and made it a part of the Inca Empire.
When Inca Yuapanki withdrew, his heir took the throne. Topa Inca conquered the tribes that inhabited the Amazonian forests, defeated rebellious tribes around Lake Titicaca and took their empire south to Chile. He died in Cuzco 1493 AD..

1493 - 1572 A.D.

Huayna Capac ascended the throne at a very young age. There was no problem with his successor. He had married a princess from Quito and she had given him a son, Atahuallpa.
But the becoming Sapa Inca married his sister and they had a son, Huáscar.
To the south, an invading tribe attacked Peru's border with Chile. Among them were some Spaniards, who spread a smallpox epidemic. The epidemic devastated that region, killing Huayna Capac in 1525.
The Inca Huáscar ascended the throne, but Huayna Capac declared that quito should be inherited by Atahuallpa. In 1532, a civil war broke out between the two half-brothers. Atahuallpa ended up imprisoning the entire country and imprisoned Huáscar.
In the same year Francisco Pizarro reached Peru with his small Spanish army. During the first months, they gradually conquered the coastal area, ending up facing the entire Inca army and, through a trap, managed to capture Atahuallpa. Two years later the Spaniards had conquered all of tawantsuyo.

Inca Civilization

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