Table of Contents
1. Introduction 3
2. History of the Inca civilization 3
2.1. The origin and Evolution of the civilization: 3
2.2. Kingdom expansion 5
2.3. Invasion of the Spanish 5
3. Administration and Government 7
3.1. Administration and laws 8
3.2. Economy 9
4. Society 9
4.1. Population 9
4.2. Languages 10
4.3. Religious beliefs and traditions 10
5. Art and Culture 11
5.1. Architecture: 11
5.2. Art works and other forms of work: 11
5.3. Medicines; Arms and Warfare: 12
6. References 13
The Inca civilization belongs to the Inca Empire and constitutes one of the biggest empires before the Columbus period in America. This civilization is believed to be existed between the times of 1438 to 1572. There were many eras in these civilization. The main administrative region of this civilization was situated in the area called as Cusco, which is currently known as Peru. It is believed that the first evidences of the Inca civilization are from Peru where it had been established in the higher lands. The end of the Inca civilization is pictured through the invasion of the Spanish in the year of 1572 (De Gamboa & Markham, 1998).
History of the Inca civilization
The History of the Inca Civilization comes from 1438 to 1572. It consists of various elements which are described below.
The origin and Evolution of the civilization:
It is believed that the origins of the Inca civilization comes from three caves which were present on the hills. The first cave is the cave at the center and it is called as Tambo Tocco. The second caves was the Maras Tocco. The third and the last caves was the Sutic Tocco. The story is believed is believed to be that there was a family of 4 sisters and 4 brothers who evolved from the cave in the middle. Their names were “Ayar Manco, Ayar Cachi, Ayar Auca, and Ayar rUchu; and Mama Ocllo, Mama Raua, Mama Huaca, and Mama Cora.” It is the people who came from the side caves, that the ancestors of the Inca civilization is believed to be born (De Gamboa & Markham, 1998)
The first brother from the center cave was Ayar Manco and he had a staff that was made of the purest gold and high quality. This staff knew magic and it is believed that all the places which was found by these staff, was then used by the people for living. For this purpose, they were very long travelers. Then comes the second brother, Ayar Cachi who had a great strength and power and he always showed it off through repeatedly speaking about it among the people. His brothers play a trick with him and sent him to a cave where, the siblings were successful in sending him into the cave again for the discovery of a sacred thing called as “Ilama”. It was when he reached there that the cave was closed and he was trapped in the cave. This was done by the brothers and sisters to get him away from the empire and ruling (Nordenskiold, 1917).
On the other hand, Ayar Uchu had chosen to remain at the top of this cave so that he can have a complete look and eyes over the People in Inca. Once, he had proclaimed that he had been transformed into stone. On seeing this, a shrine was built near the stone and people started worshipping it by considering it as a sacred thing. Ayar Auca was more rational and logical. He did not like all this politics and he had chosen to travel and explore the world alone. After his leaving, there was only Ayar Manco and the four mentioned sisters which were left to rule the Inca civilization. These people were also travelling since a long time till they reached Cusco. It was atthis place where the staff had disappeared in the ground. Till they arrived here, Ayar Manco had a child through mama Ocllo and the name of the child was Sinchi Roca. The inhabitants of the Cusco region were fighting determiningly for their land. However, due to the sheer bravery and courage of Mama Huaca, the enemy had to back off. She threw special weapons called as “bolas” which was a warfare tool made up of numerous stones which would have been kept and tied together which would be swinging in the air and then hit the enemy very hardly. This scared the remaining people who were fighting for the Inca civilization. After the ruling of the Mama Hueca, Ayar Manco came to be known as the Manco Capac, which would mean as “the founder of the Inca” (De Gamboa & Markham, 1998).
The kingdom of Inca was head by the “Tupac Inca Yuopanqi”, who was the son of Pachacuti. The main phase of expansion was started in 1463 by him, through the conquering of the Kingdom of Chimor. It was believed to be one of the strongest enemy in the neighborhoods of Inca. There were some parts conquered in the Peru region and few parts of the region currently known as Ecuador, by his son “Huayna Capac”.
In its peak time, the kingdom of Inca consisted of the Peru and Bolivian region, major portion of the currently known Ecuador, a major portion of the Chile and the north of the river Maule in the district. Hence, it can be seen that the kingdom expanded across the regions in the south of America and they continued their rule till 1572, until they were invaded and conquered by the Spanish. The expansion of the Inca Empire in the Amazon basin which was situated near the Chinchipe River was stopped by the Shuar in the year of 1527. There were few extensions of the empire to the edges of Argentina and Colombia. The expansion of the empire in the south direction was stopped by the Mapuche empire right after the occurrence of the Battle at Maule (Nordenskiold, 1917).
Invasion of the Spanish
The Spanish conquerors, Francisco Pizarro along with his brothers started invading from the south through the currently known Panama region and they reached Inca’s provincial territory in 1526. They had been achieving huge respect and large amount of wealth and royalty from the many regions conquered by them. The Queen of Spain made him the viceroy and permitted him to invade the region of the Inca Empire.
When he reached Peru, there was war going on between the two brothers for the throne who were the sons of Huayna Capac and their names were Huascar and Atahualpa. There was an outbreak of the small pox in the Central America. All these reasons developed a great tension in these areas and this weakened the entire force of these areas. Pizarro had a small army, of about 170 men, 2 cannons and 26 horses. But, the skills and tactics of his army was magnificent and they were possessing some of the best warfare strategies and techniques of those times. Their warfare machines and equipment were equally strong and had a very large potential in overpowering their enemies even though they might be in small numbers. The first success of the Spanish people is near the “Battle of Puna”, where they conqured a new province and named it as Piura in the year of 1532 (Mason, 1964).
There were many enemies of the Incasian Empire who had formed allies with the Spanish Conqueror, Pizarro. This greatly strengthened his army and he got a huge support in terms of military men, food and other facilities from them. This made it very easy for him to conquer Inca Empire, even though of their small army. Atahualpa, who was the next king of Inca Empire, had called for a meeting with Pizarro. There were many principles and tasks mentioned in the meeting by the translator through the Spanish Empire. This was not understood properly by Atahualpa and he had many questions. On being asked many questions and increasing doubts in the minds of Atahualpa for Christianity, Pizarro became frustrated and he attacked Atahualpa and made him the hostage. Even after accepting large amounts of gold from the hostage king, Pizarro attacked Inca’s Empire in 1533. Then, the kindom was assigned to Atahualpa’s brother,”Manco Inca Yupanqui ”. Pizarro carried on the expansion towards the north direction. There was a parallel level officer in the Spanish empire, named “Diego de Almagro”. There was a huge devastation of the Incasian culture and art through the Spanish people. The outbreak of small pox and influenza in these regions took lives of large number of Incasian people in 1553 as well as in 1589. The entire population of the Inca civilization diminished by 1614 when there was an outbreak of measles disease in these regions (Nordenskiold, 1917).
Administration and Government
The basis of the administration was on the Sapa Inca. It was considered as a divine and hence was believed to be the head in terms of their religious faiths and beliefs. They had a federal kind of organizational system for administration in Inca. It had four headquarters which presided over the entire region of the Inca Empire. These four departments were “Chinchay Suyu( constituting the Northwest), Anti Suyu (constituting the Northeast), Kunti Suyu (constituting the South-west), and Qulla Suyu (constituting the South-east)”. The province of Cusco was at the center of these four headquarters. They were developed in the time around 1460 during the rule of Pachacuti. These regions were made of equal areas, but the areas changed during its maximum or peak territory as it involved expansions in different directions. The entire region s of the 4 headquarters and the Cusco region was administered through a division of power and authority among the two divisions which were, hanan and hurin respectively. It has been observed that there was no written records kept in the administration of Inca civilization and hence no traces can be found of its written administration norms and policies. It was after the invasion of the Spanish that written records were developed which depicted that there were around 88 small divisions in the areas of Inca’s civilization among which 49 were near the highland areas and the remaining 39 were at the areas near the coast (Mason, 1964).
Administration and laws
There was no individual law and justice system in the Inca Empire. The main parts of the customs, traditions and the culture played an important in the development of laws and the overall governing of the empire. There were few officers who assisted the Sapa Inca to develop and maintain justice in the regions and among them, the officers of the highest authority were called,“ tokoyrikoq” (Steward, 1949).
The head of the administration was at the Sapa Inca followed by the highest authority of priests known as, “Willaq Umu”. Then there was “Inkap rantin” who had less importance, but also assisted the Sapa Inca. There was a proper balance of the administration powers and roles among the hanans and the hurins. It was observed that beginning through “Topa Inca Yupanqui”, it consistuted of the Council of the Ministers and nobles which consisted of 16 nobles among which “2 from hanan Cusco; 2 from hurin Cusco; 4 from Chinchaysuyu; 2 from Cuntisuyu; 4 from Collasuyu; and 2 from Antisuyu”.
There was formation of several groups consisting of the taxpayers, a pachaka kuraka and waranqa kuraka. The main bae of the bureaucracy and the administrative system was based on the taxpayers of different regions. This has been shown in the table below (Mason, 1964):
“Kuraka in charge “Number of Taxpayers”
Hunu Kuraka 10000
Pichkawaranqa Kuraka 5000
Waranqa Kuraka 1000
Pichkapachaka Kuraka 500
Pachaka Kuraka 100
Pichkachunka Kamayuq 50
Chunka Kamayuq” 10
There are many evidences of an excellent level of central planning that was carried in the Inca civilization. The people were supposed to pay the taxes and get the requirements in the form of security, necessary amenities and food from the government. There are no proofs that depict the trade of the Inca civilization with the neighboring provinces and empires. The economy of the Inca Empire was based on the main principle of “vertical archipelago”, which developed a system of the economic sources that were available to the government. These resources were a major contribution to the maintaining and running of the economy of the Incasian Civilization (Steward, 1949).
The Inca society and their languages were very well developed. Its details are described below:
The Inca society had very well maintained the population statistics through the census and known as “quipu”. But, the remains of these text has been completely lost due to the Spanish invasion that destroyed the entire data collected from the kingdom through systematic means and techniques. There are different facts which depict the population of the Inca Empire to be from 4 million to 37 million during its peak time in their history (Mason, 1964).
There was no use of a written languages in the Inca Empire and hence, the only proof of their communication is through the developed ceramics obtained which belong to their times, the quipu. There was a specialized form of communication system known as Quechua, which was carried by the Incas upon the empires. The language of Quechua was from the central regions of the Andean areas and the regions near Peru. However, in the kingdom of Cusco, there was a specialized language used, which is known as “Runasimi”, which was identified by the historians and they referred to it as the “Cusco dialect” (Steward, 1949).
Religious beliefs and traditions
Their religious beliefs and traditions were carried out orally and there were hardly any written concepts. Their concepts had a firm belief in the reincarnation. They believed that practicing the three ethical principles of code and conduct throughout the life by an individual, which were “ama suwa, ama llulla, ama quella (do not steal, do not lie, do not be lazy)”. The persons who flowed this were believed to get into the Sun’s warm and care shadow whereas, the ones who did not observe these codes, were taken to the cold earth with no pity. There were sacrifices made in the Incasian religion which was called as the “Capacoch”, where there were lives of the children servants and other people made during some important or disastrous event for satisfying their deities (Mason, 1964).
Art and Culture
There was a huge variation and uniqueness observed in the arts and culture of the Inca civilization. The culture and other practices are reflected through their architecture, art works and handworks and the arms and ammunitions that they developed. This is described in the following sections.
It constitutes as one of the most significant part of the arts developed in the Inca civilization. The construction of the Machu Picchu was carried out during their time, where the engineers had textiles as well as stones which were developed in such a way that it represented the authentic culture and traditions present in their civilization. They have developed the monuments and sculptures through a mortar less technique. The measurement that was carried out for the construction as well as other processes was done on the basis of the human parts.it included the distances between the different fingers and the thumb distance from the fingers (Steward, 1949).
Art works and other forms of work:
The calendars and the schedule of the Inca civilization was made by their astronomers where they had a huge knowledge of the equinoxes, solstices and other such phenomenon with very less knowledge regarding the prediction of the eclipses. There were two calendars formed which were the solar calendar and the lunar calendar. There was a huge development and display of the gold and the silver works in this civilization. All of these works were developed over a conquistadors. The ceramics that were developed and beautifully painted displayed the rich art in the form of inclusion of the natural landscapes, the animals and birds ,waves as well as other geometric patterns found in their civilization. The main modes of communication was through the Quipu, which had developed literature in the form of strings which would be knotted in them (Steward, 1949).
The coca plant was developed as a sacred and they were believed to be magical and hence, they were used for a number of religious and auspicious occasions. They were also consumed in minute quantities for their virtue of reducing the hunger and pain that occurred while working.
Medicines; Arms and Warfare:
A very unique kind of skull surgery was founded by the Inca civilization where they would cut holes in the skulls and increase the flow of the brain fluid that would have reduced due to accidents or injuries. They had developed high survival rates through the surgical techniques which increased the survival rates from 30% to 80-85% in their times.
The arms and ammunitions developed made the army one of the strongest in their region. They had several ammunitions which consisted of helmets that were developed from wood, copper, bronze and other hard animal skins. There were shields developed in circular and square shape. They had also developed cloth tunics as well as spears that were very pointed and a combination of two handed swords which would have different edges. They had strongly built copper or stone made axes which would be used in the battles (Steward, 1949).
Thus, it can be seen that the Inca Civilization was very advanced in terms of their warfare techniques, ammunitions, medicines, arts and they had a flourishing culture in their empire.
De Gamboa, P. S., & Markham, C. R. (1998). History of the Incas (No. 22). . Courier Corporation.
Mason, J. A. (1964). The ancient civilizations of Peru. Penguin books.
Nordenskiold, B. E. (1917). The Guarani Invasion of the Inca Empire in the sixteenth Century: an historical Indian migration. Geographical Review, 4(2),, 103-121.
Steward, J. H. (1949). Cultural causality and law: a trial formulation of the development of early civilizations. . American Anthropologist, 51(1), , 1-27.