Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Rise of the Inca State and Empire – Part I

The Inca Empire is less familiar to most people than that of the Romans, though the Inca came on the scene about 900 years after the fall of Rome, which had become a Republic around 509 B.C. (about 110 years before Lehi left Jerusalem) and fell to the Goths in 476 A.D., though their empire split in two in 395 A.D. (ten years after the fall of the Nephite nation). 
Contrary to popular belief, the Inca Empire, called Tahuantinsuyu  ("Land of the Four Quarters"), who referred to themselves as “The Children of the Sun,” lasted less than 100 years. At its peak, the Empire stretched 2,500 miles from Quito, Ecuador, to beyond Santiago, Chile. Within its domain were rich coastal settlements, high mountain valleys, rain-drenched tropical forests and the driest of deserts. The Inca controlled perhaps 16 million people, speaking a hundred different tongues. It was the largest empire on earth at the time Pizarro executed its last emperor in 1533, Atahualpa, at which time it had existed only 50 years.
    Even so, because the Inca caught the imagination of the public, with its amazing rise to power and the accomplishments that have always been associated with it because of its general location in the same area that earlier civilizations accomplished so much that were so visual and beyond anything else at the time than perhaps the Roman Empire before it, much of the construction, ruins, roads, and accomplishments that long preceded the Inca were at the time claimed by them, and much later, laid at their doorstep by uninformed historians and scholars.
    As an example, the fortress of Sacsayhuaman, which overlooks the valley of Cuzco, which the Inca claimed was their homeland, has been attributed to Inca builders; however, when the Spanish arrived, the Inca told them they had no idea who had built Sacsayhuaman and that it had stood long before they arrived in the valley somewhere around the 12th or 13th century.  Another example is when conquistador Pedro Cieza de Leon came upon the remains of Tiwanaku in 1549 (16 years after the death of Atahualpa and the fall of the Inca Empire), he was told by the Incan natives no one had any idea who built the fortress complex, or how old it might have been.
Top: The outer three tiered, zig-zagged walls that guarded the fortress complex; Middle: An artists drawing of the complex behind the walls; Bottom: The sheer size and masterful interconnected stones that were part of the walls
    Yet, the Inca have been credited with building both sites, and numerous others in Peru that were far beyond their ability to construct.
    For the Latter-day Saint, it should be important to reconstruct this people and find out who they really were, not who others claim them to be. Nor, as we will point out later, would they have had the time or the manpower to devote to such massive construction during their very short presence on the scene that was taken up mostly with conquest and expansion.
    At the fall of the Nephite Nation in 385 B.C., Moroni tells us “the Lamanites are at war one with another; and the whole face of this land is one continual round of murder and bloodshed; and no one knoweth the end of the war” (Mormon 8:8). Evidently, after a thousand years of wars with the Nephites, the Lamanites were not satiated, for after all the Nephites fell, leaving Moroni alone (Mormon 8:3), they continuing their warring, fighting a devastating civil war among themselves. In 410 A.D., twenty-five years later, Moroni writes that the Lamanite wars were still going on, “their wars are exceedingly fierce among themselves; and because of their hatred they put to death every Nephite” (Moroni 1:2).
How long those wars lasted, we are not told since the record ended at that time; however, thanks to Fernandez Montesinos chronology of the Inca fall, and the poem derived from it by Chancey Thomas in 1890,which we have printed in this blog a couple of times over the past five years, we have some insight into the misery of the Lamanite people and their lives following the final destruction of the Nephite Nation. While there is no authenticity behind this poem, it reflects an attitude of the indigenous people of the Andes and what befell them as a result of their bloodthirsty wars and final destruction of a once chosen people.
    The poem starts off stating: “Since the time of the old empire’s fall, a thousand years had passed,” suggesting that around 400 A.D., after the fall of the Nephites, the Lamanite people ceased to be governed under one king, as seen in the scriptural record (Mormon 6:2). As the Lamanites continued fighting, and the civil war among themselves broke out, they obviously fell into tribal leadership with each man owing his allegiance to his own tribe or group, as had the Nephites prior to the period of destruction at the time of the crucifixion (3 Nephi 7:2).
    Moroni tells us that during this time, “the whole face of this land is one continual round of murder and bloodshed” (Mormon 8:8). Chancey’s poem puts it this way: 
          “Insatiate war, that heeds not right nor life, nor love, 
           Had gorged upon the people’s sustenance,
           With famine, dread pestilence, And still the strife went on, 

           No lasting peace, but ever and anon, 
           And now the angry notes of war were heard again.”
    Insatiate war, that is a war that does not satisfy, battles that do not end, killing that never ceases—perhaps a short pause, then the angry sounds of war are heard again.
    For a thousand years, from about 400 A.D. until about 1400 A.D., the indigenous tribes are constantly at war with one another, a bloodthirsty, insatiable war that rages on year after year, generation after generation, where there is no peace, no pause, no cessation from murder and killing, from anger and depression, from loss of life to loss of life, with no one knowing when it all might end.
One can only wonder at the promises the Lord made to Lehi about this land. “We have obtained a land of promise, a land which is choice above all other lands; a land which the Lord God hath covenanted with me should be a land for the inheritance of my seed. Yea, the Lord hath covenanted this land unto me, and to my children forever, and also all those who should be led out of other countries by the hand of the Lord. And if it so be that they shall serve him according to the commandments which he hath given, it shall be a land of liberty unto them; wherefore, they shall never be brought down into captivity” (2 Nephi 1:5, 7).
    Yet the Lord made it clear through Father Lehi to his children and their descendants, that if people are brought down into captivity in this land, “it shall be because of iniquity; for if iniquity shall abound cursed shall be the land for their sakes, but unto the righteous it shall be blessed forever” (2 Nephi 1:7).
    And so, after 200  years of righteousness among both Nephite and Lamanite, during a time when their were no –ites, some members of the Church withdrew. As the Disciple Nephi wrote: “there was still peace in the land, save it were a small part of the people who had revolted from the church and taken upon them the name of Lamanites; therefore there began to be Lamanites again in the land.
    As Chauncey’s poem put it: “And then the growing corn was trampled down, And smoking hamlets marked The deathly trail of warlike bands. And time wore slowly on, The victors of today, tomorrow slaves, Then slaves grown stronger break their bonds.”
    As Moroni put it, there “is one continual round of murder and bloodshed” (Mormon 8:8), and during this time the crops were wasted, pestilence and famine raked the land, villages and cities were burned to the ground, as time passed agonizingly slow, with men and women in the throes of fear, agony, and defeat. Those who won a battle today, were defeated the next and enslaved, only to eventually break the bonds of slavery later, and start again. A never-ending battle of murder, killing and death that had no end.
(See the next post, “The Rise of the Inca State and Empire – Part II,” for more on the thousand years that passed between the fall of the Nephite Nation and the coming of the Spanish, when the rise of the Inca spread across the land)

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