Saturday, February 2, 2013

How the Inca Rose to Power

It is claimed that sometime around 1200 A.D., the political group later to be called the Inca, settled in the area of Cuzco. At the time they were merely a small tribe, with its leader a simple chieftan. When exactly this happened is not known, nor is it known if this group moved into Cuzco or simply had always been there as a non-descript gathering of people called a ayllus—an Andean form of community, which was essentially a network of extended family groups that may have adopted non-related members, giving individual families more variation and security of the land that they farmed, a sort of fictive kinship and territorial union.
What is known, is that another tribe, or group of people, the Chanka, living in the area of present day Ayacucho primarily centered in Andahuaylas, located in the modern day region of Apurímac, which was earlier occupied by the Huari Culture (Wari people) from about 500 A.D. to 900 A.D., followed by the Chanka, then the Nasca—all before the Inca.
The Chanka (Hanan or Upper Chanka) came to power around 1400 A.D., and were considered mighty and terrible fighters, screaming in battle and carrying the mummy of their grandparents on their shoulders, intimidating their enemies by taking prisoners of war and scalping, then skinning them alive as they hung them upside down. They spoke a separate puquina language, and had a capital Waman Karpa (house of Falcon) on the shore of Lake Anori along the banks of the river Pampas.
They were one of the most important ethnic groups of the prehistoric Andes, and eventually brought into a confederation several tribes, or groups, including the Uranmarca, Hancohuallu, Villca, Sula, and Utensulla, that swept across central Peru, and by 1430, bore down on the Valley of Cuzco.
The Chanka led a fierce attack against the defenders of Cuzco, who stood firm and unwavering, defeating an enemy said to be twice their number
Having gathered some 40,000 warriors in their confederation, Hanan Chanca “Ancch Hualloc” led the attack against the Inca. So fierce was the reputation of this Chanka Alliance, and so terrible their reputation in battle, that the Mallku (literally Condor, meaning prince or leader), Yawar Huacac, and his appointed heir, Inca Urco, along with many of the nobility fled the city in the direction of Collasuyo (region of the Kholla), leaving another son, Topa Hatun, and the army to defend the city if they could.
Since the entire population of Cuzco was no more than about 40,000, it is claimed that Topa Hatun dressed stones around the battle field in clothing (puruaucas) to fool the Chanka into thinking the cusqueños (natives of Cusco—they had not yet acquired the name Inca) had more warriors than they did.
Pachacutec faced Anccu Hualloc in battle, and Inca legends claim that he killed the attacking Chanka leader, frightening the remainder of the Chanka army
The battle took place outside Cuszo, at Yawarpampa (field of blood), where 22,000 Chankas and 8,000 cusqueños died. Legends claim that Chanka Anccu Hualloc was injured and captured, later escaped and led another attack, which also failed, and is said to have fled into the jungles. Tapo Hatun, who led the brilliant defense of the city and defeated the much stronger Chanka army, acquired sovereign power and founded what became a dynasty, called the Inca, and took on himself the name Pachacútec.
As became the later Inca custom, Pachacutec (roughly translates to "He who shakes the earth with honor"), needing to create a fearsome empire of nobility, worthy of leading such an empire, he took on himself the name Inca (ruler), claiming to be the ninth Sapa Inca ruler of the Kingdom of Cuzco, and established the empire Tawantinsuyu, or the Inca Empire. To be much more than they were, though having defeated the feared Chanka, genealogies were created, giving Topa Hatun’s father, Yawar Huácac the name of Viracocha, and creating seven Inca rulers before Viracocha.
Under Pachacutec’s rule, he transformed the cusqueños from a hamlet into an empire, and went from being a simple chieftan to ruling a great realm. In doing so, he conquered many groups and states, highlighting his conquest of the Collao that enhanced his prestige and that of his empire. Due to the remarkable expansion of his domain, he was considered an exceptional leader, enlivening glorious epic stories and hymns in tribute to his achievements—what became a typical attitude among the Inca.
Numerous curacas (privileged class) did not hesitate to recognize his skills and identify him as "son of the Sun." While still alive, his son and successor Tupac Yupanqui defeated the Chimu and continued the expansion of Tahuantinsuyo—the Empire. Besides being a conquering warrior and emperor, various chronicles say he was also a great administrator, planner, philosopher, observer of human psychology and charismatic general. Certainly, the Inca were not bashful about giving themselves the highest degree of praise and honors.
However, the question arises as to how the Inca could transform themselves from a small hamlet led by a chieftain to an Empire that controlled some 700,000 square miles in the course about 90 years. Consider the swift movement necessary to take an army over mountains, and ridges, through valleys and canyons, to attack an unwary or unprepared enemy. Many of the tribes or groups in the Andean area simply gave up and allowed themselves to be conquered by the Inca. And, too, how could the small “hamlet” in Cuzco feed and clothe the vast armies they sent out in conquest?
Actually, the answer is quite simple. It has less to do with Pachacutec’s leadership ability as it does with the Inca having at their disposal already built roads and highways that interconnected the entire Andean area from central Chile to southern Colombia, from the coast to the Andes, including rope bridges over canyons and raging rivers, making it possible for quickly movement from one side to the other without the need to build rafts, or take the long way around. One might ask who built the roads and highways, and the answer is found in the ancient written record of the Nephites: “there were many highways cast up, and many roads made, which led from city to city, and from land to land, and from place to place” (3 Nephi 6:8).
An already existing infrastructure enabled the Inca army to move swiftly in to attack the different nations they faced
There were also vast fields already planted, terraces taking advantage of hillsides and mountains, where numerous crops had grown and were re-planted by the Inca in such amounts that they could feed their vast armies and growing populations acquired through conquest. These fields and terraces had been built by the Nephites, allowing the Inca in one growing season to harvest millions of acres of crops. “we did begin to till the earth, and we began to plant seeds; yea, we did put all our seeds into the earth, which we had brought from the land of Jerusalem. And it came to pass that they did grow exceedingly; wherefore, we were blessed in abundance” (1 Nephi 18:24); “we did sow seed, and we did reap again in abundance. And we began to raise flocks, and herds, and animals of every kind” (2 Nephi 5:11); “began to till the ground, yea, even with all manner of seeds, with seeds of corn, and of wheat, and of barley, and with neas, and with sheum, and with seeds of all manner of fruits; and we did begin to multiply and prosper in the land” (Mosiah 9:9); “their fields of grain” (Alma 4:2); “crops of your fields” (Alma 34:24); “They did raise grain in abundance, both in the north and in the south; and they did flourish exceedingly, both in the north and in the south” (Helaman 6:12); “in the increase of their fields, their flocks and their herds” (Helaman 12:2).
There were also forts already built, defensive fortresses and citadels throughout the land, and perhaps most importantly, outlying posts or resorts to give warning of any advancing army. And, too, with an army on the march in various directions, these fortresses could be occupied for housing the army as well as give protection to them at intervals.
The point is, the Inca had a fabulous advantage to conquer and everything was in their favor, though they did not create it. All they had to do was take advantage of their circumstances to increase their mobility, their support, and their protection in the field. At home they did not have to spend time building an infrastructure for it was already in place, and on the march they did not have to take time to build, create, or improvise—the means for their mobility was already in place.
The Inca merely took advantage of what had been built by others. It is just interesting that today, so many want to give them credit far beyond their accomplishments, and from what can be seen, far beyond their ability.

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