The Inca Empire was a South American empire that emerged in the Andes and steadily expanded thanks to the military prowess and diplomacy of its monarchs. The Inca state of Tawantinsuyu, which at its height had 12 million citizens from more than 100 different ethnic groups, stretched for around 2,500 miles from northern Ecuador to central Chile.
A unified state was kept together with the aid of well-planned agricultural and road networks, as well as a centralized religion and language. Despite their strength, the Spanish invaders quickly overpowered the Inca, and the last stronghold of their vast empire was conquered in 1572.
begins the Inca Empire.
Early pre-Inca cultures in the area gave rise to the Inca, who initially appeared in what is now modern-day Peru sometime in the 12th century. The enormous drawings inscribed into the terrain known as the Nazca Lines are attributed to these older cultures.
They were supposedly formed by the sun deity Inti, who transported his son Manco Capac to Earth via the midst of three caves near the community of Paccari Tampu. Manco Capac killed his brothers, then led his sisters and their supporters through the wilderness to a lush valley close to Cusco.
At the time of the Inca’s fourth emperor, Mayta Capac, they had started growing their lands. Yet, it wasn’t until the early 15th century, under the rule of the eighth monarch Viracocha Inca, that they really started to grow in prominence.
Viracocha Inca conquered the southern Ayarmaca kingdom and seized control of the Urubamba Valley with the aid of the military prowess of his two uncles. He also introduced the Inca custom of removing armed garrisons from conquered territories in order to preserve peace.
Viracocha Inca fled to a military outpost when the opposing Chancas attacked in the year 1438, but his son Cusi Inca Yupanqui successfully defended Cusco.
Cusi Inca Yupanqui, who shortly adopted the name Pachacuti, rose to prominence as one of the Incas’ most powerful emperors. His military exploits brought the Cajamarca and Chimu kingdoms under his control and extended the kingdom to the southern end of the Lake Titicaca Basin.
The expanding span of the Inca state — now termed Tawantinsuyu or “Land of the Four Quarters” — provoked strategic logistical issues. To prevent an uprising from one ethnic group, Pachacuti is thought to have been the first Inca monarch to command forced relocation.
Pachacuti also instituted the custom of forbidding monarchs from inheriting the wealth of their forebears, guaranteeing that succeeding kings would conquer new regions and amass fresh wealth.
Pachacuti, the head of the enormous empire’s government, likewise concentrated his efforts on bolstering Cusco. By channeling rivers and building complicated agricultural terraces, he expanded Sacsahuaman, the huge fortification that guarded the city, and started a massive irrigation project.
Although Tawantinsuyu’s 12 million residents came from more than 100 different ethnic groups, a strong social framework kept the kingdom running successfully.
The majority of Inca subjects were independent farmers who took care of their own corn, potatoes, squash, llamas, alpacas, and dogs while also working for the government to pay taxes.
Despite the absence of a written language, a dialect of Quechua became the dominant tongue, and historical and financial records were kept on knotted cords called quipu.
Successes of the Inca
Today, the Inca are honored for their monumental building, which includes the majestic fortress complex of Machu Picchu, among other aesthetic and cultural accomplishments.
Moreover, the Incas created sophisticated calendars, ornate fabrics, artistic and practical pottery, surgical methods, successful terrace agriculture, and the use of coca leaves in religious rituals and medicinal. Moreover, they performed mummification of their deceased.
The kingdom was crisscrossed by a complex network of roads totaling around 15,000 miles, with relay runners able to forward messages at an amazing rate of 150 miles each day.
Regrettably, Spanish conquistadors brought back to Europe burned down many of the Inca’s gold and silver artifacts.
The Inca Religion
Inti, Viracocha, the creator deity, and Apu Illapu, the rain god, all played major roles in the Inca pantheon of deities. A large Sun Temple at Cusco, Peru, with a circumference of more than 1,200 feet, was one of the impressive shrines constructed around the empire.
The use of divination by powerful priests to determine the causes of disease, solve crimes, and forecast the results of battles frequently required the sacrifice of animals. Former emperors’ mummified bodies were revered and paraded around during rituals together with their gold and silver hoards.
After taking the throne in 1471, Topa Inca Yupanqui extended the empire’s southern frontier to the Maule River in present-day Chile and established a system of tributes under which each province supplied women to act as temple maidens or brides for illustrious troops. Further northern campaigns led by his successor, Huayna Capac, extended the enormous civilisation to the Ancasmayo River, the present border between Ecuador and Colombia.
Arrival of Spanish
Notwithstanding these developments, the entrance of Spanish explorers in the 1500s quickly started the processes that would result in the fall of the Inca Empire. Before executing Huayna Capac and his chosen successor about 1525, the Spanish introduced such foreign diseases as smallpox and influenza that decimated a sizable portion of the population.
Francisco Pizarro, a Spanish conquistador who was fascinated by tales of Inca wealth, persuaded Atahualpa to a meeting in November 1532 for what was intended to be a meal in his honor before kidnapping the emperor. The Spanish sacked Cusco in late 1533 with ease despite being vastly outnumbered by the natives, even though Atahualpa was put to death the following summer.
In an effort to maintain order, the Spanish appointed a young prince by the name of Manco as a puppet ruler. This decision backfired when a vigorous uprising broke out in 1536. Manco and his troops were ultimately compelled to flee to Vilcabamba, a settlement in the jungle that continued to serve as the empire’s last bastion for approximately 36 years.
Therefor, the Inca Empire was finally overthrown by the Spaniards in 1572 when Manco’s son Tupak Amaru, the last surviving Inca monarch, was kidnapped and put to death.
The Inca’s mythology and culture were transmitted to succeeding generations by professional storytellers because the only written accounts of them were penned by outsiders.
However, in 1911, archaeologist Hiram Bingham discovered the intact mountaintop citadel of Machu Picchu, its magnificent stone structures reflecting the power and capabilities of this proud and powerful pre-Colombian civilization. Previously, the only evidence of its existence had been found in the ruins of cities and temples.