Monday, January 28, 2013

The Inca: Occupiers or Creators – Part V

Archaeologists and anthropologists today believe that the ancient fortress of Sacsayhuaman was first built by the Kilke culture, which is said to have occupied the site before the Inca, and that the building began in about 1100 A.D. They also believe that the Inca occupied Sacsayhuaman beginning around 1400 A.D. and continued the construction around 1438 A.D. and finished around 1508 A.D.
What is left of Sacsayhuaman today. This site covered 3,094 hectares (7645 acres—12 square miles), and is one of the engineering marvels of the ancient Americas
Once again, to gain the significance of what was built and attributed to an unknown culture, the Kilke, and to the Inca, a known culture with examples of their inadequate building abilities (see previous post), the main surrounding ramparts consisted of three massive stepped parallel walls zigzagging together for over 1400 feet, designed to make any attacker expose his flanks.
One of the problems with this is simply that the amount of effort, resources, and manpower that went into the building of these defensive walls seems both un-Inca and unnecessary, since in their 90-year history, they were so involved in expanding their empire outward, from the singular area of Cuzco Valley to a vast domain covering some 700,000 square miles. Why would they have been so concerned about attack to the fortress of Sacsayhuaman that was some 1000 miles or more from any hostile force?
The expansion areas of the Inca Empire. The Red is Cuzco, the original area of the Inca. Purple is the first expansion under Pachacutec, and along with the brown and tan, would have taken a great deal of manpower to accomplish (1438 to 1493), and the light green carried the Inca through 1525
In addition, the massive blocks, the largest being 28-feet high and weighing nearly 300 tons, are fitted together with absolute perfection. The foundations are made of Yucay limestone brought from about 10 miles away. The outer walls are made from massive diorite blocks from nearby, and the inner buildings and towers are made from dark andesite some of it brought from over 21 miles away.
The chronicler Cieza de Leon, writing in the 1550's, said that it took 70 years to build, and thought that some 20,000 men had been involved in its construction: 4000 men cutting blocks from the quarries; 6000 dragging them on rollers to the site; and another 10,000 working on finishing and fitting them into position. According to legend, some 3000 lives were lost when one huge stone that was being dragged uphill broke free.
Again, the problem arises that why would the Inca devote 20,000 men to such a project when they had need of those men in their armies fighting to conquer some 100 different tribes or nations throughout what is today Peru, western Bolivia, Ecuador, southern Colombia, most of Chile, and part of Argentina? After all, in 1438, when they stopped the aggressive advance of the Chanka’s attack on Cuzco, it is said the Inca had a total population of only 40,000. Yet it is also claimed they began the construction of Sacsayhuaman that very year.
Now, consider. 40,000 total population. Basically that means about 1/3 men, 1/3 women, and 1/3 children. This means, at most, they had only about 13,000 to 15,000 men in their entire population, yet it is also claimed that the Inca ruler, Prince Yupanqui, renamed Pachacutec, began his immediate expansion of the area by military means. So who was in the military if all the men were building Sacsayhuaman? In addition, to maintain an army, there needs to be farmers growing crops, herdsmen tending flocks, butchers and food preparers to keep the army fed; there needs to be people making weapons: swords, spears, slings, etc.; there needs to be people making some type of protective covering or armor; there needs to be people making clothing, sandals, headdress, etc.
To compensate for this, scholars claim that as the Inca expanded their empire, they acquired forced labor from the conquered tribes and nations. But when we look at that, we find: 1) The Inca had to have people overseeing the conquered nation, making sure they were kept in line, showing a significant presence to guarantee the cooperation of the conquered, and position a significant local presence to guarantee there was no future rebellion; 2) a force was needed to bring the conquered males into the Inca army, which was no easy fete since the conquered conscripts would have to be kept separate so no rebellion in the ranks was fomented, etc; and 3) a sizeable force would be needed to train, organize, and lead the conscripts. None of this would have been an easy matter, since conquered people do not automatically become trusted members of the conquering society or military for some time.
In addition, with more mouths to feed, more soldiers to equip with weapons, clothing, etc., there had to be more people at home at to be involved. The point being that with the amount of manpower needed in the military and the amount of manpower needed at home to keep them equipped, fed, clothed, and operational, there simply would have been no manpower left to start or work on a 70-year project of building Sacsayhuaman, let alone a reason to build it. After all, the Inca army proved invincible for at least the first fifty years of their expansion. Not until the army reached the northern, southern, and eastern borders of what became the extent of their eventual territory, did they run into such stiff resistance that even after years of fighting, were unable to conquer further.
While it is easy for historians many hundreds of years later to say this or that happened, it is quite another matter for it to have actually taken place. Again, while it is true that after about 50 years, the Inca had several million people under their control, it cannot be assumed that a significant number were in Cuzco building a fortress. Especially when we realize that the Inca practice of control was to allow conquered nations to more or less govern themselves. It is also true that any point after many successful conquests of nearby nations and expanding outward, that the Inca would have feared an attack in Cuzco to take manpower away from their armies to build a fortress overlooking their valley.
It is interesting how scholars make such claims when there was no one around at the time to have said anything about this. Take for example, the Kilke culture they say began the first construction of Sacsayhuaman, at least the outlying buildings. Basically, nothing is known of the people archaeologists have labeled the Kilke. They are believed to have existed from 900 A.D. to about 1200 A.D., and thought to have occupied the region around Cuzco prior to the arrival of the Inca in the 13th century.
The only thing attributed to the Kilke is some ceramics discovered by John H. Rowe, who originally thought them to be early Inca. But later Rowe decided that the pottery was Kilke (interesting since nothing at all was or is known about the Kilke). These vessels are globular with vertical strap-handles and having simple linear geometric decorations of black or black-on-red over a white or buff slip. And that is it. Yet, this unknown people are said to have built the original beginnings of Sacsayhuaman.
It is also interesting that Rowe believed that the area of Cuzco was settled from oldest to latest: Marcavalle (1000-700 B.C.), Chanapata (700 B.C. to 700 A.D.), Waru, Huari and Lucre (750 A.D. to 900 A.D.), Kilke (900 A.D. to 1200 A.D.) Early Inca (1200 A.D.), Classic Inca (1438 A.D.), and Colonial Inca (1530 A.D.) Add to that is Anthropologist Karen L. Mohr-Chavez, who claims: “There were no pre-ceramic periods found in and around Cuzco.”  That is, the first people there had ceramics and were advanced beyond the normal diffusion periods that precede ceramics, called pre-ceramics, etc. Stated differently, the first settlers of Sacsayhuaman or Cuzco already had an advanced culture.
(See the next post, “The Inca: Occupiers or Creators – Part VI, for more on Sacsayhuaman, and an answer to who actually built it)

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