“Before our white brothers came to civilize us we had no jails. Therefore we had no criminals. You can’t have criminals without a jail. We had no locks or keys, and so we had no thieves. If an Indian was so poor that he had no horse, tipi or blanket, someone gave him these things. We were too uncivilized to set much value on personal belongings. We wanted to have things only in order to give them away. We had no money, and therefore a man’s worth couldn’t be measured by it. We had no written law, no attorneys or politicians, therefore we couldn’t cheat. We really were in a bad way before the white men came, and I don’t know how we managed to get along without these basic things which, we are told, are absolutely necessary to make a civilized society.”
The Inca culture is part myth part Peruvian history. There are no written historical records of people that lived for three hundred years and ruled the West Coast of South America for one hundred years.
Their recording system (mathematical) system was colored strings with knots to keep records of everything that could possibly be counted (livestock and business transactions), and some things that couldn’t – like instructions, people’s names etc. They were required to remember to understand what the strings or quipu meant . Most people couldn’t do it. They had a class of royal quipu specialists who knew how to make and read them. (the first accountants and business managers)
Archaeologists believe now that the Incas were possibly inventing written language just as the Europeans were destroying their civilization.
.No other civilization has managed to assemble so many colossal stone blocks so seamlessly cut with stones or bronze. The edges of the stone were rubbed smooth until they merged together perfectly like a puzzle. There is no mortar holding them together and they are earthquake proof constructions. ( Sacsayhuaman fortress)
How they transported all that granite up there to Machu Picchu remains a mystery. It is believed that they quarried it on site.
The Incas knew how important water was and treated it with great respect but we did not. (Ollaytantambo)
When the descendants of the Incas are planting to this day, they put flowers in their hair to dress the earth. They live with shortages but they have the mountains and the sky and that gives them peace. They are always chewing coca leaves.
Inca dances are traditional and also a way to pray.
The Inca manhood initiation rite lasted a full month, during which the boys who were training to be warriors were flogged repeatedly, had huge holes cut in their ear lobes, ran dangerous races, and danced till they dropped.
There was a lot of building going on in the Inca civilization ( third largest after Egypt and Mesapotamia) They built palaces, aqueducts, storehouses, terraces, temples, houses, gateways etc. Looking at Machu Picchu you could see their “tax dollars at work”.
We know very little about Inca women because the only written records are by the Spaniards. Spain was a patriarchal society and they were not interested in recording information about women.
The Inca emperor married his sister seemingly because this helped to resolve the problems they had with succession when an Inca died. ( a good way to prevent inheritance problems but not birth defects). Her name was Coya and she was powerful in her own right.
The Incas were skilled craftsmen and artists. Most of their gold and silver art was melted down by the Spaniards.
There were no homeless people in the Inca civilization. If criminals were not killed, they had to beg for food everyday and tell their stories so other people would not commit the same crime. (sounds a lot better than twenty years without parole)
The spirit of Ayni (rhymes with Hi-ni) exists in the Quechua culture today. We don’t talk about Incas as a surviving culture anymore. It is “I help you so you must help me later.”
Also today we have Inka Kola, Inka rail and a ton of Inka traffic going to all the historic sites.
Machu Picchu was the royal estate of Inca King Pachacuti.
Th Incas were good at organizing labor. When Pachacuti’s grandson Huayna Capac built his royal estate (in Urubumba) he had 150,000 workers on site. The corn-growing Cochabamba valley of Bolivia was short of local labor, so they had 28,000 workers migrate there from Lake Titicaca and back (a distance of about three hundred miles) twice a year, once to plant and once to harvest. On foot, of course.
They had nice roads to travel on. The Incas built a network of stone-paved highways all over the empire. Archaeologists have so far logged about 50,000 miles of remaining highways in modern Peru alone, not counting the other nations that once formed part of the Inca empire.
The purpose of Macchu Picchu will always remain a mystery. It is probably a religious and spiritual site. It is the work of man echoing the work of nature. The Inca trail leading up to Machu Picchu ( it takes four days of camping out in the Andes if you want to do it) was built to always face the snow capped mountains because that is what they worshipped. The architectural style is sacred geography. For me, if God isn’t at Machu Picchu, he isn’t anywhere.
Viajen con cuidado,
PS. I had help on this one . It is advantageous when you are writing about the Incas to have made a friend in Peru who happens to be one of the leading authorities on the Inca civilization . Peter Frost is an explorer, author, photographer and National Geographic expert on Peru and the Incas. He has made one of the most important discoveries of Inca civilization since Machu Picchu. Check out his website (www.peterfrost.org). If you are traveling to Peru you will find his books very beautiful, helpful and informative.