The Incan Civilization

Machu Picchu is believed to have been built by Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui, the ninth ruler of the Inca, in the mid-1400s. An empire builder, Pachacuti initiated a series of conquests that would eventually see the Inca grow into a South American realm that stretched from Ecuador to Chile

The Inca Empire (Quechua: Tawantinsuyu, lit. "The Four Regions"), also known as the Incan Empire and the Inka Empire, was the largest empire in pre-Columbian America. The administrative, political and military center of the empire was located in the city of Cusco. The Inca civilization arose from the Peruvian highlands sometime in the early 13th century. Its last stronghold was conquered by the Spanish in 1572.

From 1438 to 1533, the Incas incorporated a large portion of western South America, centered on the Andean Mountains, using conquest and peaceful assimilation, among other methods. At its largest, the empire joined Peru, southwest Ecuador, western and south central Bolivia, northwest Argentina, a large portion of what is today Chile, and a small part of southwest Colombia into a state comparable to the historical empires of Eurasia. Its official language was Quechua. Many local forms of worship persisted in the empire, most of them concerning local sacred Huacas, but the Inca leadership encouraged the sun worship of Inti – their sun god – and imposed its sovereignty above other cults such as that of Pachamama. The Incas considered their king, the Sapa Inca, to be the "son of the sun."

Etymology

The Inca referred to their empire as Tawantinsuyu, "the four suyu". In Quechua, tawa is four and -ntin is a suffix naming a group, so that a tawantin is a quartet, a group of four things taken together, in this case representing the four suyu ("regions" or "provinces") whose corners met at the capital. The four suyu were: Chinchaysuyu (north), Antisuyu (east; the Amazon jungle), Qullasuyu (south) and Kuntisuyu (west). The name Tawantinsuyu was, therefore, a descriptive term indicating a union of provinces. The Spanish transliterated the name as Tahuatinsuyo or Tahuatinsuyu.

The term Inka means "ruler" or "lord" in Quechua and was used to refer to the ruling class or the ruling family. The Incas were a very small percentage of the total population of the empire, probably numbering only 15,000 to 40,000, but ruling a population of around 10 million people. The Spanish adopted the term (transliterated as Inca in Spanish) as an ethnic term referring to all subjects of the empire rather than simply the ruling class. As such, the name Imperio inca ("Inca Empire") referred to the nation that they encountered and subsequently conquered.

History -- Antecedents

The Inca Empire was the last chapter of thousands of years of Andean civilizations. The Andean civilization was one of five civilizations in the world deemed by scholars to be "pristine", that is indigenous and not derivative from other civilizations.

The Inca Empire was preceded by two large-scale empires in the Andes: the Tiwanaku (c. 300–1100 AD), based around Lake Titicaca and the Wari or Huari (c. 600–1100 AD) centered near the city of Ayacucho. The Wari occupied the Cuzco area for about 400 years. Thus, many of the characteristics of the Inca Empire derived from earlier multi-ethnic and expansive Andean cultures.

Carl Troll has argued that the development of the Inca state in the central Andes was aided by conditions that allow for the elaboration of the staple food chuño. Chuño, which can be stored for long periods, is made of potato dried at the freezing temperatures that are common at nighttime in the southern Peruvian highlands. Such a link between the Inca state and chuño may be questioned, as potatoes and other crops such as maize can also be dried with only sunlight. Troll did also argue that llamas, the Inca's pack animal, can be found in its largest numbers in this very same region.

It is worth considering the maximum extent of the Inca Empire roughly coincided with the greatest distribution of llamas and alpacas in Pre-Hispanic America. The link between the Andean biomes of puna and páramo, pastoralism and the Inca state is a matter of research. As a third point Troll pointed out irrigation technology as advantageous to the Inca state-building. While Troll theorized environmental influences on the Inca Empire, he opposed environmental determinism, arguing that culture lay at the core of the Inca civilization.

The Inca Empire at its greatest extent ca. 1525

Manco Cápac, First Inca, 1 of 14 Portraits of Inca Kings, Probably mid-18th century. Oil on canvas. Brooklyn Museum

Inca expansion (1438–1533)

Atahualpa, the last Sapa Inca of the empire, was executed by the Spanish on 29 August 1533

Machu Picchu is believed to have been built by Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui, the ninth ruler of the Inca, in the mid-1400s. An empire builder, Pachacuti initiated a series of conquests that would eventually see the Inca grow into a South American realm that stretched from Ecuador to Chile

The Inca Empire (Quechua: Tawantinsuyu, lit. "The Four Regions"), also known as the Incan Empire and the Inka Empire, was the largest empire in pre-Columbian America. The administrative, political and military center of the empire was located in the city of Cusco. The Inca civilization arose from the Peruvian highlands sometime in the early 13th century. Its last stronghold was conquered by the Spanish in 1572.

The Inca Empire at its greatest extent ca. 1525

From 1438 to 1533, the Incas incorporated a large portion of western South America, centered on the Andean Mountains, using conquest and peaceful assimilation, among other methods. At its largest, the empire joined Peru, southwest Ecuador, western and south central Bolivia, northwest Argentina, a large portion of what is today Chile, and a small part of southwest Colombia into a state comparable to the historical empires of Eurasia. Its official language was Quechua. Many local forms of worship persisted in the empire, most of them concerning local sacred Huacas, but the Inca leadership encouraged the sun worship of Inti – their sun god – and imposed its sovereignty above other cults such as that of Pachamama. The Incas considered their king, the Sapa Inca, to be the "son of the sun."

Etymology

The Inca referred to their empire as Tawantinsuyu, "the four suyu". In Quechua, tawa is four and -ntin is a suffix naming a group, so that a tawantin is a quartet, a group of four things taken together, in this case representing the four suyu ("regions" or "provinces") whose corners met at the capital. The four suyu were: Chinchaysuyu (north), Antisuyu (east; the Amazon jungle), Qullasuyu (south) and Kuntisuyu (west). The name Tawantinsuyu was, therefore, a descriptive term indicating a union of provinces. The Spanish transliterated the name as Tahuatinsuyo or Tahuatinsuyu.

Manco Cápac, First Inca, 1 of 14 Portraits of Inca Kings, Probably mid-18th century. Oil on canvas. Brooklyn Museum

The term Inka means "ruler" or "lord" in Quechua and was used to refer to the ruling class or the ruling family. The Incas were a very small percentage of the total population of the empire, probably numbering only 15,000 to 40,000, but ruling a population of around 10 million people. The Spanish adopted the term (transliterated as Inca in Spanish) as an ethnic term referring to all subjects of the empire rather than simply the ruling class. As such, the name Imperio inca ("Inca Empire") referred to the nation that they encountered and subsequently conquered.

History -- Antecedents

The Inca Empire was the last chapter of thousands of years of Andean civilizations. The Andean civilization was one of five civilizations in the world deemed by scholars to be "pristine", that is indigenous and not derivative from other civilizations.

Inca expansion (1438–1533)

The Inca Empire was preceded by two large-scale empires in the Andes: the Tiwanaku (c. 300–1100 AD), based around Lake Titicaca and the Wari or Huari (c. 600–1100 AD) centered near the city of Ayacucho. The Wari occupied the Cuzco area for about 400 years. Thus, many of the characteristics of the Inca Empire derived from earlier multi-ethnic and expansive Andean cultures.

Carl Troll has argued that the development of the Inca state in the central Andes was aided by conditions that allow for the elaboration of the staple food chuño. Chuño, which can be stored for long periods, is made of potato dried at the freezing temperatures that are common at nighttime in the southern Peruvian highlands. Such a link between the Inca state and chuño may be questioned, as potatoes and other crops such as maize can also be dried with only sunlight. Troll did also argue that llamas, the Inca's pack animal, can be found in its largest numbers in this very same region.

It is worth considering the maximum extent of the Inca Empire roughly coincided with the greatest distribution of llamas and alpacas in Pre-Hispanic America. The link between the Andean biomes of puna and páramo, pastoralism and the Inca state is a matter of research. As a third point Troll pointed out irrigation technology as advantageous to the Inca state-building. While Troll theorized environmental influences on the Inca Empire, he opposed environmental determinism, arguing that culture lay at the core of the Inca civilization.

Atahualpa, the last Sapa Inca of the empire, was executed by the Spanish on 29 August 1533