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Friday, 21 August 2015

Inca Empire

The Inca Empire was the largest empire in pre-Columbian America. It arose from the highlands of Peru sometime in the early 13th century. From 1438 to 1533, the Incas used conquest and non-violent assimilation to gain a large portion of western South America, that centered on the Andean mountain ranges. They ruled along the western coast of South America until the Spanish invasion in the 16th century.

The administrative, political, and military center of the empire was located in Cusco in modern-day Peru.

In the mid fifteenth century, Pachacuti, the King of the Incas and the ruler responsible for the Inca expansion into an empire, rebelled against the sun god his people worshiped. Having realized the sun follows a set path everyday, he asked himself, "So who is the true God?" He then learnt that his ancestors had worshiped the true God, Viracocha, the creator of all things. Armed with this partial revelation of Jehovah, Pachacuti ruled that only the ruling caste could worship this true god. Within a century when the Spanish conquistadors arrived instead of giving the Incas a full revelation of Jehovah, the Christian God, they obliterated the Inca royalty and ruling class. Thus all knowledge amongst the Incas of the one true God was destroyed and a possible South American reformation died at birth.

Conquistador Francisco Pizarro executed the last independent Inca Emperor Atahualpa in Cajamarca on July 26, 1533 during the Spanish conquest of the Empire.

The influence of potatoes permeated the Incan culture. For instance Incan units of time correlated to how long it takes for a potato to cook to various consistencies. Potatoes were even used to divine the truth and predict weather.

The Incas stored their potatoes and other food crops on the Andean mountain heights. The cold mountain temperature froze the food and the water inside slowly vaporised under the low air pressure of the high altitudes. This was the first instance of freeze drying food.

Chicha, a beer made from maize, played a major part in Inca life.

It is estimated that as many as 300,000 llamas were used by the Incas to transport silver ore from their mines.

In the marriage ceremony of the Incas, the couple was considered officially wed when they took off their sandals and handed them to each other.

Inca chiefs wore relatively short hair, with a headband wrapped around five times; nobles and commoners had progressively longer hair and fewer turns of the headband.

Before the Spanish conquest of South America, the Incas used gold for everyday objects such as nails, combs and dishes.

Incans did not have a form of currency. Goods were provided by the state.

Guinea pigs were first domesticated by the Incas, who used them for food, in sacrifices, and as household pets.

Machu Picchu, a 15th-century Inca citadel situated on a mountain ridge 2,430 metres (7,970 ft) above sea level was built around 1450, at the height of the Incas. It was abandoned just over 100 years later, in 1572, as a belated result of the Spanish Conquest.

The Macchu Picchu, at twilight. By Martin St-Amant Wikipedia

Although known locally, Machu Picchu was not known to the Spanish during the colonial period and remained unknown to the outside world.

American historian and explorer Hiram Bingham travelled the region looking for the old Inca capital and on July 24, 1911 he was shown to Machu Picchu by a local farmer Melchor Arteaga.

For more than five centuries, the Q'eswachaka people have been rebuilding the last Incan rope bridge every year.

Sources, Food For Thought by Ed Pearce

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