Monday, July 3, 2017

The Inca and Pre-Inca: Let’s Be Realistic About This – Part I

-->Were the Inca the builders and creators of the fantastic construction found in Andean Peru?    When the Spanish arrived in South America they found a formidable civilization called the Inca occupying the Valley of Cuzco and the city there. In fact, Cuzco is considered to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the western hemisphere. During Inca times, it was the political and religious capital of the Empire of Tawantinsuyu, meaning ‘Four Quarters of the Earth’.
    The Incan Quechua name of the city was Qosqo, meaning ‘navel’ or ‘center’ but the early Spanish conquerors changed the name to Cuzco meaning a hypocrite, humpback or small dog. In 1990 the local government voted to reinstate the original name.
    Some claim that at an elevation of 11,150 feet, Cuzco was laid out on a grid plan in the shape of a puma, a sacred mountain lion. It is claimed that the pre-Inca site of Sacsayhuaman, on a plateau near the northern edge of the city, forms the head of the puma and the Coricancha temple forms the center of the grid; however, to fit the puma shape into the city that stretches for several miles is not an easy task, unless you are just picking some streets within a city to make your design.
By choosing certain streets and topographical features, it is claimed that the city of Cuzco is laid out like a Puma; however, the city is much larger than that and was originally

It is always interesting how historians, archaeologists and anthropologists see the ancient histories they write about. As an example, the Inca have been given credit for building the fabulous stone walls, buildings, fortresses, and pyramids found all over Andean Peru for far too long. Always willing to add every good thing and accomplishment to their pantheon and history, the Inca themselves, when questioned by the Spanish conquerors about who built all the stone complexes they saw, answered that they were built by the ancients—by those long before their own ancestors.
Complexes of huge stonework that defy modern Engineering techniques and knowledge are found all over Andean Peru and erroneously attributed to the Inca who lacked such ability

Far too many historians and writers, tour guides and sellers of antiquities try to foster all this history and accomplishments onto the Inca; however, all that is seen throughout Andean Peru, Chile, Ecuador, and western Bolivia, was built long before the Inca were just a small, pastoral tribe, an áyllu, or small community, beginning with a single family sometime in the 12th or 13th century that lived somewhere on the Altiplano, supposedly under the family head of one named Apu Tambo, who lived a nomadic lifestyle.
    Upon the death of his father, Manqu Qhapaq succeeded him as the head of the áyllu to which belonged several dozens of families. Their movement through the Altiplano until they reached the Cuzco Valley, where they defeated three small tribes that occupied the area (Sahuares, Huallas and Alcahuisas), and settled in a swampy area between two small streams (today said to be the main plaza of the city of Cuzco).
    During all this time, while Manco Capac’s people only occupied a small fraction of the Cuzco Valley, with the rest of it being inhabited by larger and more powerful tribes, who often threatened the developing city—seeing Manco Capac’s group as invaders with a confederated lordship of Ayamacas and Pinaguas often attacking them, the áyllu developed into a large extended family that was often forced to defend themselves against these attacking raids. Eventually they became a sizeable tribe of basically related groups, and finally an elaborate hierarchy of social and political units bound together by rules of kinship, in the Cuzco Valley by the end of the 1300s. At this time it is claimed the tribe or áyllu groups occupied several villages in and around Cuzco.
    Initially, and perhaps in its purest form, the áyllu groups were an egalitarian society (as society where everyone is equal) without formal institutions of political or religious power or established political or religious positions. These áyllus were comparatively close, more so than others in the surrounding region, which formed a moiety, or saya. In the beginning, the two moieties were divided into two parts, an upper (senior) one called hanansaya, and a lower (junior) one called hurinsaya, with the senior one claiming lineages more closely related to the so-called founding ancestor, which, in the case of the Inca, was Manco Capac (Manqu Qhapaq,”the Royal Founder”), the main figure of Inca mythology, involved in both of the best known legends about the Inca origin, who was married to Mama Uqllu (Mama Cora Ocllo, either the daughter of Inti and Mama Killa, or Viracocha and Mama Qucha), the mother of his son and successor Sinchi Ruq’a (Cinchi Roca or Rocca, who reigned either in 1105 or 1230, according to the legend involved).
    In its purest form the ayllu was an egalitarian society without formal institutions of political or religious power or established political or religious positions; however with time, especially as the 1400s began, this linage kinship grew or evolved into the ranking of moieties (two separate parts) and descent lineages that intruded an element of kinship-defined inequality into the communities, establishing both economic and organizational implications, such as becoming the basic political and productive units of society, and in Inca practice the ranking of moieties and descent lineages intruded an element of kinship-defined inequality into the system.
    Thus, under the Inca, the moieties, or twin parts, became the peasants and the leader family or kinship units, with one major element arising by 1420 A.D., with the first áyllu acquiring leadership that soon evolved into the “right to rule,” and the first true leader appearing by 1430 and by 1438, Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui became the first true reigning ruler or Inka of the dominant elite with total dictatorial power after defeating the Chancas, a war-like people who had come from the West (modern-day region of Apurimac) to take over the Cuzco region; however, Pachacuti defeated them and himself took control of the entire Valley.
Pachacuti (left) established the name Tahuantinsuyu, known as the Inca Empire, promoting his little kingdom to an intimidating title that frightened many of the small tribal groups who inhabited the areas around Cuzco Valley. In fact, the Inca created a legend about Sinchi Roca (Qujechua for “valorous generals Inca”) sending a diplomat named Teutihi to a nearby kingdom to give a very important message; however, he was promptly killed on arrival and his head sent back to Sinchi Roca, who went to war with the neighboring tribe at the Battle of Mauedipi. It was a ruse, a fake story, or as some claim an incident of limited interest at the time, but it gave rise to the war that led to the dominance of Cuzco over the surrounding valleys, though archaeological evidence and the testimony of other groups point that the Inca remained of little significance under his rule or at that time. Still, the legend and others eventually had their power that gave undue credibility to the Inca among the surrounding tribes.
    After 1438, Pachacuti began to have visions of grandeur for his little kingdom.
Top Rigth: Ruins of the Inca palace of Colcampata, claimed to have been Manco Capac’s palace; Others: the Palace restored

The Inca pantheon from 1438 with Pachacuti onward is considered to be accurate; however, everything before that time is clouded in Incan fabrication and difficult to separate from the myriad of stories the Inca deliberately wove into the historical pantheon for the sole purpose of intimidating opposing cultures. That the Inca, as a known people with a known heritage to have existed before 1400 is all conjecture, and certainly they did not exist prior to sometime in the 14th century, probably the second half, at which time they, once again, were a small áyllu or community of little importance.
    It should also be kept in mind that the legends and histories of Manco Capac and his son Sinchi Rocca, were considered little more than the creative imaginings of the half Spanish, half Incan chronicler Garcilaso de la Vega, “El Inca,” in his Commentarios Reales de los Incas in 1609, who, having been born illegitimately of a Spanish conquistador and an Incan princess in Peru in 1539, spent most of his adult life in Spain trying to convince the Spanish Crown and people of the nobleness of the Inca people and his legitimate claim to his father’s estate. His writings are often considered questionable regarding the Inca history, standing, and nature.
(See the next post, “Let’s Be Realistic About This – Part II,” for more information about the early Inca, who they were, where they came from, and the accuracy of their achievements)

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