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When the Spanish under the leadership of Francisco Pizarro arrived in Peru in 1532, they encountered the Inka empire. With a population of about 8 million people occupying the area from the Ecuador-Colombia border in the north to central Chile in the south, the Inka empire was the largest indigenous empire in the Americas.

The Inka empire in 1532 was less than a century old. The Quechua-speaking Inka began to coalesce as an identifiable people in the twelfth century in the area around Cuzco. They incorporated religious traditions from the earlier Wari and Tiwanaku civilizations. They began to expand about 1438 and by 1460 had become an empire.

Inka Map

The Inka empire expanded through a combination of military conquest, alliances, and negotiations. As an empire, the Inka ruled an amazing array of different peoples: peoples speaking different languages, inhabiting different environments, and having distinct ethnic traditions and identities. There were often large-scale transfers to conquered populations from one area to another, which broke up the indigenous populations and allowed the Inka to govern them with less resistance.

The Inka used a system of labor-based taxation, known as Mit’a. This enabled them to engage in large-scale building projects. It tied the commoners to the state during parts of the year. During these periods they were fed and supported by the state. In some instances this required travel from the home towns of the workers to distant building sites.

The Inka emphasized the divinity of the living ruler and the royal ancestors. They promulgated the national cult of Viracocha (sun god). At the same time, conquered gods were incorporated into the Inka system.

Royal inheritance was vested in a corporate group of the ruler’s descendents. It was as if the king had not died at all, but his body continued to hold court. This deprived the new ruler of the wealth that he would need to support his own court. Thus the new ruler had to find the resources to support his own court during his life and after. Expansion of the empire provided these resources to the new ruler.

Upon the death of the ruler, a new ruler was chosen for competence from the old ruler’s sons. This has the potential for civil war, which was the situation which the Spanish were able to capitalize on in order to conquer the Inka.  

Stone Work


Architecturally the Inka are best-known for using large stone blocks, often weighing tons, which were carefully fitted without masonry.

Machu Pichu Map

Probably the best-known Inka site is Machu Pichu, which is not really characteristic of their population centers. Machu Pichu was a ceremonial center and a royal palace located in a defensive location. It was constructed about 1460 and used until 1560. It had only a small custodian population during most of the year.

Machu Pichu 1

Machu Pichu 3

Machu Picchu Residence

Machu Picchu Terrace

Photos of Machu Pichu are shown above.

The Inka empire was tied together with an efficient road system. They did not have wheeled vehicles but relied on llamas and human porters to transport goods throughout the empire.

The Inka economic system had two basic levels. First, there was local kin and community based economic production and exchange. At this level there were local styles which were produced for local use. Second, there was a much larger scale production that was heavily centralized and standardized and controlled by the state. This included the production of metal goods—often finely crafted prestige items of gold and silver which the Spanish simply melted down—and textiles.

Inka Textiles

An example of Inka textile work is shown above.

Complex civilizations around the world usually require some form of writing for record-keeping and for long-distance communication. In fact, many archaeologists use the presence of writing as one of the criteria for defining a level of social organization which they would call a civilization. Most archaeologists feel that the Inka did not have a form of writing as Eurocentric scholars understand it. For communication they used a system of knots and strings known as a khipu (quipu). While this has often been interpreted today as being a numeric system and/or a mnemonic system, some of the knots also had non-numeric values and could be used to transmit and record non-numeric messages. At the present time, many researchers are looking at the khipu as a form of writing, or at least proto-writing.


One of the other criteria that archaeologists use for defining a civilization is urbanization. The Inka city of Cusco had a population of about 100,000 people. Cusco was laid out so that different parts of the city represented different conquered areas of the empire.

Native American Netroots Web BadgeCross Posted at Native American Netroots

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Originally posted to Native American Netroots on Fri Aug 05, 2011 at 08:43 AM PDT.

Also republished by J Town, Pink Clubhouse, Progressive Friends of the Library Newsletter, SciTech, and History for Kossacks.

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  •  Tip Jar (132+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TomP, gchaucer2, seeta08, Dreaming of Better Days, enemy of the people, soothsayer99, Mary Mike, raina, McGahee220, DaNang65, JanF, bubbanomics, GreyHawk, WiseFerret, SallyCat, Crider, ExStr8, frandor55, Brown Thrasher, 88kathy, Polly Syllabic, state of confusion, LaughingPlanet, sceptical observer, Farkletoo, trustno1, capelza, HairyTrueMan, Xapulin, vixenflem, coolbreeze, unspeakable, jessical, pengiep, Unitary Moonbat, Williston Barrett, lgmcp, catilinus, Ian S, brasilaaron, markdd, SpecialKinFlag, BalanceSeeker, wader, Garrett, slksfca, angry marmot, XNeeOhCon, Uberbah, ER Doc, eightlivesleft, Patric Juillet, LaFeminista, quarkstomper, pat208, greycat, TexDem, Pescadero Bill, greenbastard, Debbie in ME, missLotus, lineatus, Hedwig, AuroraDawn, sewaneepat, Wino, Chaddiwicker, Mike S, peachcreek, roses, bythesea, blue jersey mom, marleycat, YucatanMan, envwq, Portlaw, Ana Thema, Shockwave, dotsright, huttotex, Cedwyn, mungley, anodnhajo, grover, Brian B, cmorrison, se portland, birdboy2000, Josiah Bartlett, oysterface, Bluesee, greenbird, DavidW, JekyllnHyde, JayinPortland, trumpeter, Wee Mama, Massman, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, seanwright, blindyone, tgypsy, flitedocnm, Iberian, notksanymore, Louisiana 1976, sebastianguy99, navajo, enhydra lutris, Jim R, blw, aliasalias, CA ridebalanced, ozsea1, emmasnacker, Orinoco, ogre, asterkitty, lol chikinburd, DickCheneyBeforeHeDicksYou, legendmn, princesspat, strandedlad, Aji, KenBee, EdSF, Dbug, belinda ridgewood, BarackStarObama, Ahianne, RonK, FarWestGirl
  •  Great diary (17+ / 0-)

    but really should be many.
    Really interesting history, pre- and post-conquest.
    Spanish used Inca figureheads long after Pizarro.

  •  Utterly fascinating, thank you (24+ / 0-)

    While the pictures of Machu-Pichu are astounding, my favorite is your first picture of the perfectly hewn and placed rocks.  Thank you so much, Ojibwa.

    Vi er alle norske " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

    by gchaucer2 on Fri Aug 05, 2011 at 08:56:11 AM PDT

  •  Thank you very Machu (15+ / 0-)




    {hangs head}

    Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

    by LaughingPlanet on Fri Aug 05, 2011 at 09:02:00 AM PDT

  •  This is cool! (9+ / 0-)

    Thanks for the time you put into it.


    "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room." - President Merkin Muffley

    by Farkletoo on Fri Aug 05, 2011 at 09:02:02 AM PDT

  •  Perhaps you can answer a question (12+ / 0-)

    that doesn't appear in anything I've read. What's the best estimate of how long it took to build Machu-Pichu?

    "The human eye is a wonderful device. With a little effort, it can fail to see even the most glaring injustice." Richard K. Morgan

    by sceptical observer on Fri Aug 05, 2011 at 09:06:56 AM PDT

  •  Thanks, as always! (8+ / 0-)

    Tip'd, Recc'd, Tweeted.

    Want to know what makes you tick? All Things Human

    by trustno1 on Fri Aug 05, 2011 at 09:09:12 AM PDT

  •  Allillanchu! (13+ / 0-)

    South America is home to many wonderful & ancient cultures.

    Also, many people along the west coast speak 1 or another dialect of Quechua (aka Runasimi), which is the same family of languages as that which was spoken by most people living in the Inka empire (aka Tiwantinsuyu).

    One of many neat things about the language is how accessible it is to non-native speakers (like me...).

    "The creatures looked outside from pig to man... already it was impossible to say which was which." -- from Animal Farm by George Orwell

    by Brown Thrasher on Fri Aug 05, 2011 at 09:14:19 AM PDT

  •  I've always seen it as Inca (9+ / 0-)

    with a "c".   In what contexts are what spellings found?

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Fri Aug 05, 2011 at 09:27:28 AM PDT

  •  I am a descendant (10+ / 0-)

    of Incan progenitors. The diarist neglected one the surprising aspects of the ruling class, that is the exceptional height. Prone to being taller and stronger than their lowlander neighbors, they used these aspects as leverage to conquer and force alliances. Which supplied them more food, especially meat.

    This then allowed them to achieve average heights of 6'3" for men and 6'1" for women. This is still exceptionally tall for modern society.

    Unfortunately for the incans, this allowed the Spanish to easily identify the ruling class and eliminate them.

    My genetic heritage explains my barrel chest, large cranial volume and large sinus cavities. And my 6'5" stature.

    It's good to see the my heritage represented.

    Thank you.


    How much further to the right can the republicans go before they circumnavigate themselves? - MKDANAHER

    by Qantumreflection on Fri Aug 05, 2011 at 09:28:43 AM PDT

  •  I know I'm kinda old, but when did Inka (5+ / 0-)

    replace Inca in the lexicon?

    Fuck me! He made it. Will Scarlet

    by dagolfnut on Fri Aug 05, 2011 at 09:31:13 AM PDT

  •  What is this supposed to mean? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brown Thrasher, Iberian
    Most archaeologists feel that the Inka did not have a form of writing as Eurocentric scholars understand it

    What does Eurocentricity have to with this particular analytic tool? You seem to be implying some bias to the definition of "writing" -- and that simply doesn't make sense to me.

    It would make sense to imply Eurocentricity to privileging writing above other forms of communication -- that's a higher order analysis that tends to be biased by personal experience.

    As far as is known, quipu encoded accounting information but didn't encode full grammars. If you define "writing" loosely as any physical encoding capable of handling full grammars, then whether or not quipu are writing is simply an empirical fact to be determined by research.

    This would than be a counter-example to a possibly Eurocentric bias that empires require a writing system to function.

    Is there some other usage of "writing" that isn't Eurocentric that I'm not aware of? I'm pretty sure the Chinese and the Indians would agree on this -- as well as Sequoyah of the Cherokee and Mayan scribes, if we could ask them.

    •  Well, you know they've found a Quipu at (10+ / 0-)

      Caral that is approx 5,000 years old. You know also, that from the Classic to the Post Classic periods of MesoAmerican (ie, not South American) some aspects/usages of writing appear to have been temporarily lost.

      It doesn't seem a great stretch to assume the usages of Quipus also fluctuated over a 4,500 year tradition. Quipus in one Andean culture may've had quite different usage than in another. Think of the difference between Post Classic Aztec & Classical Mayan script.

      Writing in the Middle East seems to have originated from the needs of Sumerian court officials re: accounting-and developed from there. Common sense would tell us that a vast Andean Empire would have much more a need of "writing" than a tiny Sumerian city state.

      If the Quipu readers hadn't been killed off by disease, starvation & sword, I think we would've had the proof that their usage did include grammatical aspects.

      We still know relatively little...but I think it is safe to say the Quipus represented an alternate way of "writing."

      Meteor Blades seems to do an outstanding job of community moderation despite the abject failure to be perfect.

      by catilinus on Fri Aug 05, 2011 at 09:48:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Those are empirical observations that I have (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dotsright, Josiah Bartlett

        no quarrel with -- the level of ignorance that we have about quipu definitely leaves the door open that they were, in fact writing, and not just accounting.

        But what would be an "alternate way of writing" would be that it is actually writing in a different medium. That wouldn't be a question of a "Eurocentric" definition of writing -- but simply academics being actually wrong about the facts.

        It seems much more "Eurocentric" to assume that because Sumerians decided to use a system initially developed to do accounting to also record poetry, that the Andeans were somehow obligated to do the same.

        They may never have felt a need to develop writing; the only requirement for imperial scale may be a sufficient accounting system, and the development of that system into writing maybe just a local quirk of Sumerian culture.

        The Chinese went the other way -- they developed writing apparently as a part of a philosophical system, that they later used for accounting.

        I don't think we know what the links between Mayan accounting and Mayan writing were, since almost all the examples that have survived come from monumental inscriptions.

        Maybe this assumption that somehow people "should" develop writing because they have an empire is "Eurocentric".

        •  I enjoyed your post & I think I get what you're (7+ / 0-)

          saying...still I disagree (lol).

          Maybe this assumption that somehow people "should" develop writing because they have an empire is "Eurocentric".

          It is not that they "should", but that they "would." As you yourself referenced, the Mayan kings ruthlessly (literally, as in breaking the fingers of captured scribes) used writing as propaganda to justify their dynasties, wars & dipolomacy.

          from what we know of 5,000 years of Andean civilization, the kings there were equally motivated to propagate their glories (as were all "old" world kings as well). Once they had made the great breakthrough with a system of accounting, it defies common sense to think royal governments wouldn't find a way to exploit it to memorialize their great deeds & justify their dynasties.

          Think of Teotihuacan, a city of 250,000 people, where until recently scholars thought had absolutely no system of writing-simply because they couldn't ID it (not to mention other-less reputable left over assumptions). We now know they did have a script, even though we can't decode it (apart from bars & dots).

          The Incan had an empire that from North to South roughly matched the Roman Empire from East to West. They couldn't have governed that without both a system of "written" accounting &...for lack of a better word temporarily...Imperial propaganda.

          The last 20 years have proven that all we were certain we knew about Native American societies, that in almost all regards, we underestimated them.

          For example, I've never read about an Inkan "toothbrush" but I have to assume they had them (in some form) as we do know they had bronze instruments for brain surgery & were quite successful at trepanning.

          Humans...put enough of us together in an overcrowded urban environment and...overtime...we tend to recreate the simliar successes & failures (local resources allowing).

          Meteor Blades seems to do an outstanding job of community moderation despite the abject failure to be perfect.

          by catilinus on Fri Aug 05, 2011 at 10:41:06 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Hadn't heard about Teotihuacan writing... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            YucatanMan, Josiah Bartlett

            that's new. Interesting.

            Unfortunately for quipu, the medium is much more temporary. A lot of our knowledge is driven by a false implication that lack of evidence is evidence of lack, not properly corrected for the different rates of decay of resources.

            You build megaliths with rocks -- it'll be known for millennia. Build in a tropical rainforest with wood -- it takes an awesome observer to distinguish that a few decades later.

            We're left speculating. Don't blame the Europeans for this one -- they have enough real sins that we don't need to add any more.

            •  Excellent point about rates of decay-that along (8+ / 0-)

              with the biological holocaust (much greater than the black plague) that accompanied the European invaders, destroyed so much of pre-contact America. So much of the intellectual & philosophical achievements were lost.

              I still have trouble getting my head around the tragedy of the Mississippi civiliazations ("mound builders") who were wiped out before any Puritan ever landed in New England by a few murderous germs making their way up from miniscule Spanish trading posts in Florida.

              It is so hard to see on the other side of a holocaust what life was like before...we just get archeaological glimmers, and, luckily, some oral traditions that brave souls have kept alive.

              Meteor Blades seems to do an outstanding job of community moderation despite the abject failure to be perfect.

              by catilinus on Fri Aug 05, 2011 at 11:10:29 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I think one of the key things is that (9+ / 0-)

                it is extremely difficult to escape the prejudice of our own frame of reference, or even of "the commonly repeated" frame of reference.

                For example, we seem to think that everything done in the past has a religious significance. Perhaps ancient peoples were more like modern peoples and simply liked to have a good time. (I know this is an extremely lame comparison, but my point is....)

                Perhaps the ball courts were football fields, rather than sacred events and the masses gathered at the base of El Castillo to see a beautiful pageant performed. Well, of course, the priests and royalty would have led the way, just as the President throws out the first baseball of the season.  But that doesn't mean the entire audience were spell-bound quivering fanatics. Perhaps there were doubters and realists and people who figured out other sucessful stories for themselves.

                My point. Where did I leave it?  Well, we certainly know that these large organizations spread over large areas had some means of recording, transmitting, and retaining communications. Writing, whether knotted string, pictographs, letters, words, whatever you want to call it, certainly existed in some way.  

                And interesting among the Maya, are the stelea, posted in well-trafficked public areas... leading us to believe that many people knew how to read the messages, not just the royal scribes. Writing for the common folk?

                Ok, back to my point:  I simply think we make enormous errors when we assume that older civilizations were not as well - or better - equipped intellectually as we are today.

                There, that's it!

                Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better. -- Harry S Truman

                by YucatanMan on Fri Aug 05, 2011 at 11:30:13 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I have to agree with you on this- (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Josiah Bartlett, Matt Z, YucatanMan
                  Perhaps there were doubters and realists and people who figured out other sucessful stories for themselves.

                  Had to be doubters...all the time. Good leaders & bad leaders. Revolutionary leaders who embraced new ideas, & more conservative ones who clung to the past. If not, the Mayan kings wouldn't have gone to the great expense of making sure everyone saw their face (in stone) & knew of their great political & religious achievements.

                  And they laughed. God how they laughed.

                  I simply think we make enormous errors when we assume that older civilizations were not as well - or better - equipped intellectually as we are today.

                  What one man (or woman) can do, another can do.

                  Intellectually? Hell, the Mayans, for example, invented the mathematical concept of zero...the Greeks never got around to that.

                  Meteor Blades seems to do an outstanding job of community moderation despite the abject failure to be perfect.

                  by catilinus on Fri Aug 05, 2011 at 11:55:56 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  What one can do, another can do? (0+ / 0-)

                    That's not true. If I were dropped in the Amazon without any equipment -- I'd be dead within days if not shorter.

                    I can't do what others do -- and they can't do what I do.

                    Now, any person can be trained to do what others do -- but that's completely different, that depends on being at the right place at the right time.

                    No one could read & write Cherokee until Sequoyah invented a written language for it. That's an accident of history -- one person at one time inventing something. Of course, anyone could have learned to do so, once it was invented -- but it wasn't possible until someone actually did due to a personal quirk, a singular moment.

                    I reject this sort of flattening of people -- that cultures and histories are merely different styles of doing the exact same thing. We are actually different -- it's not just a matter of dialect, but a matter of language.

                    That's a good thing. It's a bad thing to try to shove us all on the same map -- really, if Quichua culture is just a different style of American culture, why should they bother to save it? If it's basically the same thing -- then it seems kind of silly to not just pick the most popular and have everyone rally around that for efficiencies sake.

                    •  No, no... I know I didn't explain my thoughts very (4+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      RandomSequence, Ojibwa, catilinus, Ahianne

                      well, trying to work and comment and participate in conference calls at the same time.

                      Cultures are certainly not 'level' or the same. Culturally, there are enormous differences.  

                      But as individual people, were they really so mysterious? Really so.... exotic?  Didn't they have fun, laugh, cry, mourn, like all the rest of us?

                      Maybe they cried in different ways. We sob. Did they ululate? Scream out? Silently shake?  But they cried. We cry.

                      The Maya culture contains many concepts absolutely foreign to our way of thinking:  That "empty" spaces (to us) are constantly inhabited by the spirits of the trees, rocks, insects, animals, birds and ancestors... and perhaps even successors.  That time is circular, rather than linear.  Of course their culture was different, containing multitudes of understandings of the world that may have been helpful to us, but are now lost to history.

                      But a mother mourns for her dead child, whether royal or campesino, gringo or chilango, sacrificed or died from disease, war, accident....

                      In fact, my argument would be that ancient cultures may have been enormously more wealthy than our own in social and societal interactions, in understanding and connection to their natural surroundings, in concert with weather and seasons.  

                      It doesn't take much sitting in cubicles because we are forced to rent our labor to "persons" known as corporations to start to think "outside the box" about how disconnected our current civilization is from sustainability and reality. We live an largely - almost exclusively anymore - artificial life disconnected from our true impact on the ability of the world to sustain us.

                      But as human beings, we are much the same.  We still breathe, eat, drink, love, hate, fight, embrace and rest.  

                      Culture and individual existence are not the same thing.

                      Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better. -- Harry S Truman

                      by YucatanMan on Fri Aug 05, 2011 at 01:23:23 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Do they have fun, laugh, cry, mourn... (0+ / 0-)

                        You have two different categories there -- some physiological responses (laugh, cry) -- and some emotional responses (have fun, mourn).

                        The former are obviously the same for everyone -- everyone laughs, cries, coughs, breathes, drinsks... But I think the other ones aren't the same but similar. Not everyone "fights" in the same way, "loves" or "hates" in the same way.

                        "Mourning" may overlap a lot -- but it probably is also distinct in ways. It's hard for me to believe that the emotional life of a Nazi death camp guard (to take an extreme example) is very similar to an Andean peasant.

                        We are connected -- we can translate and understand each other -- but it's not easy. We're not "the same inside" -- but we can, with effort, understand what is inside each other, because after all, it's inside the same kinds of bodies with the same kinds of brains and hormones.

                        You even posit it yourself -- if the lives of other societies are in fact enormously richer socially than ours, then how could their individual existences be basically the same?

                        When your neighbor dies, do you mourn? Probably not. When your boss gets a promotion, do you feel pride? Probably not.

                        I always remember how Sitting Bull was honestly shocked to see the drunks in the gutter when he toured the big cities with Cody's Wild West show. His internal life really wasn't like the life of a Western politician who, when he sees his constituents, see objects, chess pieces, pawns for his own amusement.

                    •  Oh, I didn't mean to "flatten" out any people. (0+ / 0-)
                      I reject this sort of flattening of people -- that cultures and histories are merely different styles of doing the exact same thing. We are actually different -- it's not just a matter of dialect, but a matter of language.

                      People respond to, and interact with, their environment. The use of fire, making tools, language, & spiritual or philosophical beliefs...seem to be common human phenomena-that doesn't flatten them out. Variations in human culture seem to stem from how those factors interact with the local environment...or as, I think you said, "accidents of invention."

                      Human ingenuity is though right across the board. Hence, when some horses escaped from Spanish corrals in the 1500s..and then proceeded to migrate/breed past the Sonoran desert...and the herds made it 1000s of miles away to the plains of this country...the local people never having seen or heard of horses...nonetheless came up with the independent idea of taming & riding them-and became unparalled at doing so-centuries before ever seeing Europeans.

                      Meteor Blades seems to do an outstanding job of community moderation despite the abject failure to be perfect.

                      by catilinus on Sat Aug 06, 2011 at 01:02:11 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                •  Everything is "ritual" to those outside... (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  YucatanMan, Ojibwa

                  "Ritual" just means a formal system -- and everything that humans do is a formal system, so everything is "ritual".

                  If you don't know what it means, you call it "religion".

                  But still -- this assumption that being "intellectually well equipped" means "intellectually equipped like us" -- that they were "little moderns" is just another form of "Eurocentrism".

                  Maybe the Maya stelea were in public areas and unreadable to the common people -- they had a public and a private message, one which was internal grammer and one which was geographically linked symbolism.

                  Pictographs are not writing for the purposes of "fully grammatically capable". We shouldn't collapse our words to mean everything just because our prejudice privileges certain terms.

                  I think we make enormous errors when we assume that the intellectual capacities that we specialize in are necessarily the same that older civilizations did -- just because we think we're so great.

                  I don't see any reason to say that it somehow makes a Mayan "smarter" if they need to know to read and write -- instead of looking at what they valued (such as probably a folk-astronomy that makes us look blind).

                  •  Somehow, you've made my argument for me (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    RandomSequence, Ojibwa

                    probably because my effort at writing was so interrupted and incoherent the first time around.

                    I do believe that "education" may have been much more widely spread in the Maya culture, for example, than commonly believed. There is even a nursery rhyme (like our "Ring Around the Rosy") which teaches children to find a square corner and equal measure with string and sticks. Masonry education via song.  It is thought to predate the Spanish by centuries.  

                    Surely similar educational tools existed.  Surely "writing" could have been images in whatever form: images of letters, images of symbolic graphics.  "Writing" doesn't have to mean to them what it means to us today.

                    Perhaps we have perfected or vastly improved mass communications and individual ability to transmit information around the world, but our efficiency probably shouldn't be confused with depth of understanding of transmitted (carried, verbally repeated, sung, knotted, etc) communications in a myriad of other forms.

                    Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better. -- Harry S Truman

                    by YucatanMan on Fri Aug 05, 2011 at 01:28:51 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

      •  Excellent response! Thank you. n/t (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ojibwa, Matt Z, catilinus

        Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better. -- Harry S Truman

        by YucatanMan on Fri Aug 05, 2011 at 11:19:53 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks. Brought back great memories... (8+ / 0-)

    of a trip to Peru some 25 years ago. Cuzco and Machu-Pichu were fascinating although my fist day in Cuzco I was laid up with altitude sickness (splitting headache) and sipping coca tea. No problem a couple days later in Machu-Pichu which many folks don't realize is several thousand feet lower in altitude than Cuzco. At the time, I was a little nervous - Shining Path terrorism was a threat - and there was armed military presence everywhere. But had a wonderful time with no incidents.

    Just another faggity fag socialist fuckstick homosinner!

    by Ian S on Fri Aug 05, 2011 at 09:47:57 AM PDT

  •  Thanks Ojibwa (7+ / 0-)

    Remember that complete and total lack of evidence is often proof positive for a conspiracy theory.  The tight, mortar-less joints on the stone work are often presented as proof of alien intervention, case there's no way the indigenous tribes could have crafted anything so perfect.

    •  That and the amazing pieces like the 12-sided (6+ / 0-)

      stone.  That one gets all the publicity, but there are many others with fewer sides that still make you go wow...

      They only call it Class War when we fight back.

      by lineatus on Fri Aug 05, 2011 at 10:40:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  pfft, aliens (5+ / 0-)

      I'm always amazed that people are willing to point to aliens as the cause for anything even remotely considered difficult.

      Once the crops were in, what else were you to do in Inka society? Facebook? Catch a few re-runs of Seinfeld? Nope. You practiced your craft. You trained apprentices. No one in the ancient world knocked off at 5pm on the dot so they could get home in time for football.

      •  Dawn to dark (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Josiah Bartlett, Ojibwa, Matt Z

        and then by candle light...

        Throughout the ancient world, craftsmen and artisans worked with crude tools and tremendous skills to create works of wonder.  Then we have idiots tell us I couldn't be done without modern machinery.  As if, the some of the crap our factories turn out will stand the test of time.

        •  My grandfather (8+ / 0-)

          retired a master machinist. He could turn hunks of plastic, metal, wood, or stone in to amazing pieces that would all contribute to make toys, puzzle boxes, and simple machines that did nothing, but did it in the most enjoyable ways.

          One day, he sits me down on a bench, turns the master power switch for his shop off, and gets out this worn wooden box full of tools that I couldn't identify.

          The tools were older than he was and he showed me how he could produce the same amazing pieces with the same tolerances, only slower and with a lot more sweat and cursing.

          I've never bought the "this could only have been done with modern tools!" myth. All that does is show us how contemptuous and shallow Western lay scholarship has been.

          •  Kudos to the old man (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I envy his skill.

            Riffing on the Eurocentric comment above.  There seems to be a techno-centric movement as well.  If it couldn't be produced by modern machines then it couldn't be produced at all.  Do these people realize we got to the Moon with less on-board computing power than your pocket calculator.  Hell, your throw it away every 2 years cell phone has more way more computing power than Apollo 11.

    •  The Danikenites (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      are just bozos with no imagination and less intelligence.  "I couldn't do it, therefore no human could!" is the laziest sorry-ass excuse there is.

      I am still learning, but the teachers often suck.

      by trumpeter on Fri Aug 05, 2011 at 12:42:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  machu pichu (7+ / 0-)

    that structure is one of the wonders of the world
    if you ever have a chance to visit dont let it pass

    one of the great mysteries is how pizarro and his
    men were able to cross the atlantic ocean traverse
    the continent climb the andes and turn around go
    back to the atlantic coast return to europe then
    come back to conquer the inca empire

    why didnt the invaders die off from the bacteria
    they would have encountered in the air food and
    water . bacteria they would have no immunity to
    plus insect and snake bites . a modern travel guide
    has page after page of health warnings yet the
    europeans invaders seem to have been immune

    a great mystery    


  •  TY Ojibwa for the diary (5+ / 0-)

    "Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." Arundhati Roy

    by LaFeminista on Fri Aug 05, 2011 at 10:03:38 AM PDT

  •  Great diary. (4+ / 0-)

    I read it while listening to one of my favorite Neil Young songs:

    That was also one of my favorite concerts, The Garage Band Tour, out of the 36 times I have seen him.

    I was Rambo in the disco/ I was shootin' to the beat/ When they burned me in effigy My vacation was complete. Neil Young

    by Mike S on Fri Aug 05, 2011 at 10:20:27 AM PDT

  •  One of the most fascinating places in that area (8+ / 0-)

    was Salinas - a hillside above the Sacred Valley where they did salt production.  There is a small salt spring near the top of the valley, and as it descends the hillside, the flow is diverted into a series of salt pans terraced into the hillsides in the style of farmed terraces elsewhere.  It has been in production since the Inca's time.

    On that same trip, we visited Macchu Picchu at dawn on the solstice to watch the sun hit the Condor stone (June 21 - mid-winter for them).  It was 1999 and the last one of the millennium so the place was crawling with new agers... kinda hilarious.  But that didn't take away from the coolness of the moment.  

    They only call it Class War when we fight back.

    by lineatus on Fri Aug 05, 2011 at 10:34:42 AM PDT

  •  NYT had article on Macchu being "loved to death" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ojibwa, dotsright, Matt Z

    by too many visitors.

    Also, the wall you picture is at Cuzco.  They too used the star shape of a fortress.

    Avg. Medicaid cost to New Jersey: $1936 per child per year. Avg cost of helicopter commute for Governor: $2300 per hour. Guess which one Christie wants to cut back on?

    by Inland on Fri Aug 05, 2011 at 10:38:42 AM PDT

  •  Thank you for these diaries, Ojibwa. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    YucatanMan, Portlaw, Ojibwa, dotsright, Matt Z

    Always tipped, always rec'd.
    And most of all, always not scimmed, but read.

    ...and dropping a bar bell he points to the sky, saying "The sun's not yellow-it's CHICKEN!"

    by porchdog1961 on Fri Aug 05, 2011 at 11:09:47 AM PDT

  •  Chasqui (5+ / 0-)

    One aspect of the roads that has always fascinated me was the runners called Chasqui that the Incas used. The runners could deliver fresh fish from the coast to Cusco, about 200 km, in less than two days.

    Via Wikipedia

    The Chasquis (also Chaskis) were agile and highly-trained runners that delivered messages, royal delicacies such as fish[1] and other objects throughout the Inca Empire, principally in the service of the Sapa Inca.
    Chasquis were dispatched along thousands of miles, taking advantage of the vast Inca system of purpose-built roads and rope bridges in the Andes of Peru and Ecuador. On the coast of what is now Peru their route ran from Nazca to Tumbes. Chasqui routes also extended into further reaches of the empire into parts of what are now Colombia, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile.
    Each chasqui carried a pututu (a trumpet made of a conch shell), a quipu in which information was stored, and a qipi on his back to hold objects to be delivered. Chasquis worked using a relay system which allowed them to convey messages over very long distances within a short period of time. Tambos, or relay stations, were constructed at key points along the road system, often consisting of a small shelter with food and water. Chasquis would start at one tambo and run to the next tambo where a rested chasqui was waiting to carry the message to the next tambo. Through the chasqui system a message could be delivered from Cusco to Quito within a week.
    A caricature of the Chasqui was used as the mascot for the Copa América in 2004, which was hosted by Peru that year.

    It is possible to read the history of this country as one long struggle to extend the liberties established in our Constitution to everyone in America. - Molly Ivins

    by se portland on Fri Aug 05, 2011 at 11:54:48 AM PDT

  •  Great Diary and great pics, John Hemming's book on (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Josiah Bartlett, Ojibwa, KenBee

    The Conquest of the Inca is very good.

    Have you considered doing a diary on the Comanche?

    I just finished Empire of the Summer Moon, great book.

    I searched Comanche in your profile and could not find a diary.


  •  For such a short-lived empire (5+ / 0-)

    It's amazing how much it lived on in the dreams of the indigenous people of the Andes.  While Americans were fighting for their independence, a man who called himself Tupac Amaru II (whether he was indeed directly descended from the original is a matter of dispute - but the name sure helped him out!) was leading a rebellion against Spanish rule in Peru and trying to re-establish the Inca state, and enormous numbers rallied to his cause.  The Aymara even today from what I've read refer to Qullasuyu, not any pre-Incan states, when discussing their aspirations of autonomy and whatnot.

    Part of it was that Spanish rule was pretty bad, to be sure.  But even still, it's amazing how much nostalgia there is for the Incas.

    •  understandable (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ojibwa, Ahianne

      The Inka Empire was the last big empire in line before the Spanish came.  And it was huge.  I could see how present day Native South Americans could find a unified identity in that empire.  Peruvians look back at the Inka Empire the same way Uzbeks look back at Tamerlane's Empire, Mongolians look back at Ghenghis Khan's Empire, and Macedonians look back at Alexander's Empire.  All those empires, good or bad, can be fashioned into golden ages.

  •  1491 (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    se portland, Ojibwa, Ahianne

    Have you read the book 1491?  I'm reading it right now, and my friend is visiting Machu Pichu this week!

    It runs out that the Inkas practiced a form of government that has been referred to as Stalinist, which stymied researchers in the mid-1900's because of ideological pressures!  Also, what we have read in our textbooks about American Indians is mostly wrong, as it turns out.

    As well, the decimation of the entire Inka nation by handful of Spanish Conquistadors under Pizarro is in error.  We now believe that they were wiped out by disease, as were all indigenous Indians in the Western Hemisphere, according to this book.

  •  just seeing your name: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ojibwa, KenBee


    ...and i become music, like mockingbirds.

    (even though all i really do is squawk and whistle, it feels like i sound as good as mockingbird.)

    today is all the more beautiful for just seeing 'Ojibwa.'

    Addington's perpwalk is the trailhead of accountability for this wound to our national psyche.

    by greenbird on Fri Aug 05, 2011 at 12:15:03 PM PDT

  •  You forgot their main contribution: potatoes (5+ / 0-)

    The lowly potato was their primary foodstuff and the Spanish brought it back to Europe after the conquest, where, due to its ability to grow in areas where grains could not and that the potato provided more calories than grain per area planted, it became the main food for the peasant class throughout Europe.

    Where would the rest of Western history have been without the potato?

    Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect -- Mark Twain.

    by dcrolg on Fri Aug 05, 2011 at 12:31:50 PM PDT

  •  Peru has so many fascinating archaeological (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ojibwa, se portland, KenBee, Ahianne

    sites. One of the older ones that is being degraded by rain and wind (especially from El Nino storms) is Chan Chan, on the coast, by the lovely city of Trujillo.

    Machu Pichu is worth a visit but there are a lot of other sites that would interest those who love archaeology.

    Thanks, Ojibwa, for this series. It is always worth the time to read your diaries.

    You have to get over the color green; you have to quit associating beauty with gardens and lawns; you have to get used to an inhuman scale; you have to understand geological time- Wallace Stegner

    by blindyone on Fri Aug 05, 2011 at 01:23:32 PM PDT

  •  Great diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I was born in Peru in 1969.  That's the origin of my handle:   Inkan1969.  The diary was an interesting read.

  •  Inka vs Chimu (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ojibwa, se portland, cmorrison, Ahianne

    I took a course in South American Archaeology where I studied all the SA civilizations from Chavin on.  I think the Chimu empire of what is now Northern Peru, centered around ChanChan, was the big rival to the Inka empire, until the Inkas finally overran it.

    I read something very unusual about the conflict though.  The Chimu empire was accepting of homosexuality, while the Inka was very anti-gay.  When the Inkas overran the Chimu, they used anti-gay rhetoric to motivate their troops.  Has anyone else heard of this?

  •  spelling (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    se portland

    I must also admit to some confusion? If we can't find written language, why is spelling now ' Inka ' but used to be ' Inca ' ?

    •  Phonetics (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      It isn't that big of a deal to me. I would suppose that the 'Inka' spelling leaves less ambiguity as to the pronunciation in an international community. We all know what civilization we are talking about. I suppose this is somewhat in reverse of 'Inca' vs. 'Inka', but I think this video is instructional all the same. :)

      It is possible to read the history of this country as one long struggle to extend the liberties established in our Constitution to everyone in America. - Molly Ivins

      by se portland on Fri Aug 05, 2011 at 02:22:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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