Twantinsuyu: World of the Incas



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Twantinsuyu: World of the Incas

  • Around 1300 AD, the Inca civilization emerged in the Andean region in South America

  • After the breakup of the states of Tihuanaco and Huari, large states in the Andean region continued to be important. These large states were in a period of war, just like the situation in Mesoamerica as the Aztecs rose to power

  • Of all the warring states, the coastal kingdom of Chimor was the most powerful in the Peruvian region


Inca Rises to Power

  • legend holds that 10 clans emerged from caves in Cuzco around 1350, and within one hundred years these clans unified and conquered neighboring clans

  • under their ruler, Pachacuti, these people led a series of alliances and campaigns that give them control over a larger amount of land

  • Pachacuti’s son, Topac Yupanqui, conquered the northern coastal kingdom of Chimor and extends the borders of the civilization into present day Ecuador

  • The Inca extend their control south also to the Maule River in Chile by defeating Araucanian Indians

  • The next ruler, Huyana Capac, takes the land conquered by Topac and consolidates it

  • This civilization is also called “Twantinsuyu”

  • 9-13 million people (different ethic backgrounds and different languages)


Conquest and Religion

  • deceased rulers were mummified and treated as intermediaries with the gods

  • mummified rulers were displayed in festivals, offered food and goods, and even consulted on by oracles

  • Inca adopted “split inheritance” from the Chimor kingdom  political power and titles of ruler switch to his successor, while previous ruler’s palace, land, wealth, and possessions stay with the male descendant

  • To ensure his own “cult”/place for eternity, each new inca needed to secure land and wealth, which came through conquest

  • Like the Aztecs, the Incas considered the sun god their highest deity, the inca was viewed as the sun god’s representative on earth

  • The Temple of the Sun, in Cuzco, was the religious center for Incans.

  • The Inca believed that mountains, stones, rivers, caves, tombs, and temples (“huacas”) were holy shrines. Here they prayed and performed sacrifices (humans, animals, and goods)


Techniques of Imperial Rule:

  • They were able to control such a vast empire by using practices that ensured cooperation and subordination

  • The inca ruled from his court Cuzco; high priest was typically a relative of the inca

  • Twantinsuyu was divided into 4 provinces, each appointed a governor. Each province was subdivided.

  • They developed a bureaucracy where nearly all nobles were involved

  • Local rulers (“curacas”) were allowed to keep their position in return for loyalty to the imperial empire. The local rulers were exempt from tribute

  • To unify the empire, the Incans ppl spread the Quechua language

  • They made extensive use of colonists by sending in Quechua speakers to new lands to provide the “Inca example”

  • Along the extensive road network, “tambos” were developed to serve as inns, storage, and supply houses for the military and for message runners

  • Conquered people served in the military and worked on building/irrigation projects

  • The Inca typically don’t collect tribute, they forced the conquered people to work the conquered lands

  • Incan communities were expected to make “mitas” rotations of work

  • Women wove cloth for the court and religious ceremonies

  • Some women were taken as concubines, and others worked as servants at the temple

  • Overall the Inca establish an imperial, but remain sensitive to local variation

  • The Inca practiced “parallel descent” mem passed down inheritance to the son; women to the daughter

  • The Inca emphasis on military virtue reinforced inequality between men and women

  • Incan women felt particularly drawn to fertility gods; the inca’s main wife was usually one of his sisters and was seen as a link between women and the moon

  • Despite theories on equality, Incan society created a gender hierarchy. This is evident by the fact that the most beautiful women became sex slaves for the inca.

  • Ayllus peasantry

  • Yana workers for the inca or nobility

  • Nobility were distinguishable by hair and clothing

  • No merchant class due to regional sufficiency and state dependence for non-manufactured good

  • Civil War in 1520 leads to Incan decline


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