Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Rise of the Inca State and Empire – Part III

Continuing with the rise to power of the Inca Empire and how their short 94 year history was spent in conquering and administering, rather than in building and accomplishing great engineering fetes. 
    As the Inca expanded their Empire, it took an ever increasing Army charged with defending the sovereignty of the Empire, expanding its borders, and putting down rebellions—it was also often used for political purposes, such as executions or coups. The militaristic nature of the Inca monarchy caused great emphasis to be placed on the army and the position of the common soldier, who was given food and clothing and state aid for a he and his family to ensure that agricultural production did not suffer due to the absence of a productive worker. For these reasons full-time soldiers were held in high regard and they even occupied their own position in the socio-political pyramid.
When the army returned to Cuzco following a successful campaign they were received by women and children as heroes in a ceremony held in their honor. The ceremony took place in the Plaza de Armas in Cuzco and consisted of exhibiting the plunder and parading the prisoners as a symbol of the victory.
     In addition, the expanding Empire took a continually growing administration complex to administer, taking tens of thousands of people, including the rank and file workers of the conquered or assimilated societies. Keeping 10 million or more conquered people in line was no simple task and though the Inca used ingenious methods to do so, they still were heavily occupied with the administration of their Empire. They had little time for anything else—especially not the arts, vast building projects, or creating a magnificent road system.
     During this time, the center of the Empire was nestled in a mountain valley 10,000 feet above sea level, which had been a small village with a nondescript people when its first leader, Pachacuti, rose to power in 1438 A.D. and transformed it into a great city laid out in the shape of a puma. He also installed Inti, the Sun God, as the Incas' official patron, building him a wondrous temple.
     One of his ideas, which partly explains his and the Inca’s sudden rise to power, Pachacuti expanded the cult of ancestor worship. When a ruler died, his son received all his earthly powers—but none of his earthly possessions. All his land, buildings, and servants went to his panaqa, or other male relatives. The relatives used it to preserve his mummy and sustain his political influence, so that dead emperors maintained a living presence.
Thus, the new ruler had to create his own income. The only way to do that was to grab new lands, subdue more people, and expand the Empire of the Sun. At first it became the dominant power in the Cuzco valley—originally a community where life was fragile and families helped one another in planting and harvesting crops. Pachacuti used this small village mentality to transform the people into a society based on helping one another—which became helping the “State,” and building up the fledgling empire.
     With this “free” labor, the Inca—the name given or claimed by Pachacuti and all subsequent rulers, though in time it became the term used for the ruling family and finally for the ruling class—built large plazas in the middle of every city and settlement they developed, which became the center of festivities to which they invited neighboring chiefs. These parties lasted for days, sometimes as much as a month, in which the visiting chiefs were “wined, dined and entertained” until they felt obligated to honor the Inca’s request for further labor to build greater cities and larger plazas where even greater festivals could be held.
     At first, the Inca took advantage of existing buildings, cities, and complexes that had been developed by others, some more than fifteen hundred years earlier. Buildings and vast roadways were cleared, unified, expanded and even rebuilt where necessary, though most had weathered the ages in excellent condition, providing the Inca swift movement of their army during military campaigns.
A road built more than a thousand years before the Inca, and part of the Qhapac Ñan (Quechua for "The Great Road")
     In fact, the magnificent roadways, which the Spanish conquistadors likened very favorably to those of the early Romans, allowed the Inca to administer their expanding empire which, eventually, covered more than a thousand miles. Had those roads not been in place, and in excellent usable condition, the Inca could never have achieved their meteoric rise to power and the administration of such a vast Empire in the short time they had before the Spanish came.
     By the time the Spanish arrived in 1532, the Inca Empire was not only the largest empire in the Americas, but controlled some ten million or more people at a time when communications of control, leadership and administration were sent on foot.
     As for their administration and control buildings, districts and regions, they relied heavily on those already built by past societies, most dating into B.C. or early A.D. periods, and which had been built by engineers of a far greater ability than that possessed by the Inca. As an example, in Sacsayhuaman, on the plateau overlooking the valley, stonework was performed with such exactness, that vast pillowy boulders weighing many tons, even a hundred tons and more, were cut and dressed and set in place with such remarkable precision, even stonemasons today have a hard time understanding how it was accomplished without mortar and in such “earthquake-proof” manner. However, when it came to the Inca repairs, a far lesser ability is easily seen.
Sacsayhuaman showing both Nephite construction (large cut, dressed and fitted stones) and (yellow arrows) Inca repairs of small, stacked stones
     With only 160 soldiers, the uneducated Francisco Pizarro, a man who could not even write his own name, lured Inca Atahualpa to a peace meeting, treacherously killed him, and conquered the entire Inca empire, which opened up most of South America to Spanish rule, giving Spain control of a vast territory covering 375,000 miles with about ten million inhabitants. Pizarro, with his small band of cunning, ruthless, fearless, cruel and brutal men from poor regions of Spain who were desperate to make their fortune defied the odds and attacked and defeated the largest empire in the Western Hemisphere, fulfilling the promise the Lord made to Lehi, “But behold, when the time cometh that they shall dwindle in unbelief, after they have received so great blessings from the hand of the Lord -- having a knowledge of the creation of the earth, and all men, knowing the great and marvelous works of the Lord from the creation of the world; having power given them to do all things by faith; having all the commandments from the beginning, and having been brought by his infinite goodness into this precious land of promise -- behold, I say, if the day shall come that they will reject the Holy One of Israel, the true Messiah, their Redeemer and their God, behold, the judgments of him that is just shall rest upon them” (2 Nephi 1:10).
It was Mormon who signaled the beginning downfall of the Nephties when he wrote: “I saw that the day of grace was passed with them, both temporally and spiritually” (Mormon 2:15), and after they had been totally wiped out, leaving just Moroni (Mormon 8:5), the bloodthirsty Lamanites continued to war, commencing a civil war amongst themselves, “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). Twenty-five years later, Moroni adds: “For behold, their wars are exceedingly fierce among themselves; and because of their hatred they put to death every Nephite” (Moroni 1:2).
     Those ancient Lamanites who had survived a thousand years of civil war following the destruction of the Nephite nation of which Moroni wrote, found themselves at the mercy of a band of merciless conquistadors whose savagery was far more server than anywhere else in the Americas as the Land of Promise was finally overrun and the people ground into dust. Nowhere did the indigenous Aztec, Maya or Inca survive, especially in the Andes, where even today, almost 500 years after Pizarro, the people have not recovered.

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