Thursday, June 23, 2011

Incan Empire in Peru

I've been watching some Travel Channel specials on Machu Picchu (which I will post about soon!) and learned that it was created by the Incans, and what most surprised me is that the Incan civilization existed for such a short period of time - from roughly 1200 to the late 1500s - and flourished for only about 100 years.

map of Incan Empire

I have heard of the Incas so much, I always assumed they were around for hundreds and hundreds of years, but in actuality they can be credited with a great deal in a surprisingly short period of time.   The Incan Civilization's timelessness is evident through their monumental architectural ruins and geometric textile patterns and painted ceramics.

Machu Picchu

Incan Pottery ca. 1420-1530
Incan textile ca. 1480-1525

There are many versions of the origin story of the Incans, and most poitn to Manco Capac as the first ruler, dominating local tribes and establishing the Incan Empire in Cuzco, Peru. Various legends surround his birth, with some linking him to the sun god and noting his birth on an island in Lake Titicaca.

Neighboring lands were brought into the Incan Empire, often by convincing leaders of the riches they would gain by aligning with the Incans. The Incans would also bring the children of neighboring leaders to Cuzco to educate them (and in the process indoctrinate them as to the virtue of the Incan Empire) and would strengthened the bonds with allies through the intermarriages.  The Incan's powerful military would subdue any allies who challenged the empire.

Incan road
The Incans are known for having the most advanced and extensive transportation system in Pre-Columbian South America, with their vast network of roads spanning thousands of miles (I've read varying accounts online, from about 14,000 to 25,000+ miles).  These roads allowed for expedient military and civilian communication, and helped with moving people and goods around to benefit the empire. They were mostly reserved for military and noble usage, although they were often also used for llama caravans.

Illustration of the Incan ruler before Pizarro
Despite the extensive roads, alliances with neighboring leaders, and military power, the Incan Empire deteriorated, first weakened by civil war, then through the ispread of smallpox, and were eventually conquered by Spanish conquistadors led by Pizarro. The Spanish conquering forces destroyed about 75% of the roads either by purposefully digging them up or through deterioration as a result of horse hooves clad in steel stomping as they carried Spanish soldiers and provisions.

Surviving indigenous descendents of the Incas include the Quechua and Aymara peoples, who continue some of the traditions of their ancestors and continue to inhabit the region that was once the center of the Incan Empire.


  1. Interesting Nikki. I never would have thought they were only in existance as a people for about 300 yrs. They seemed so innovative yet disease and war took 'em out.

  2. this really helped me on my Incan project! thanx Nikki!

  3. geography? need a little more help here!!

  4. wow thanx nikki!! this is great:D

  5. know this: If Cheap Taps is not resolved, you can choose a regular point of the brand. General formal goods are manufacturers of brand identity, and some Waterfall Taps product or some quality time products are often pasted some paper labels only, even without any markings, be sure to pay attention to when buying Kitchen Sink Taps.

  6. this has good info but it still didnt answer my question. what land did the first sapa inca own