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  1. Inca Civilization
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[ 1 ]

Inca Civilization

Origin and history
by Mark Cartwright

The Inca civilization flourished in ancient Peru between c. 1400 and 1533 CE, and their empire eventually extended across western South America from Quito in the north to Santiago in the south, making it the largest empire ever seen in the Americas and the largest in the world at that time. Undaunted by the often harsh Andean environment, the Incas conquered people and exploited landscapes in such diverse settings as plains, mountains, deserts, and tropical jungle. Famed for their unique art and architecture, they constructed finely-built and imposing buildings wherever they conquered, and their spectacular adaptation of natural landscapes with terracing, highways, and mountaintop settlements continues to impress modern visitors at such world famous sites as Machu Picchu.

Historical Overview

As with other ancient Americas cultures, the historical origins of the Incas are difficult to disentangle from the founding myths they themselves created. According to legend, in the beginning, the creator god Viracocha came out of the Pacific Ocean, and when he arrived at Lake Titicaca, he created the sun and all ethnic groups. These first people were buried by the god and only later did they emerge from springs and rocks (sacred pacarinas) back into the world. The Incas, specifically, were brought into existence at Tiwanaku (Tiahuanaco) from the sun god Inti, hence, they regarded themselves as the chosen few, the 'Children of the Sun', and the Inca ruler was Inti's representative and embodiment on earth. In another version of the creation myth, the first Incas came from a sacred cave known as Tampu T'oqo or 'The House of Windows', which was located at Pacariqtambo, the 'Inn of Dawn', south of Cuzco. The first pair of humans were Manco Capac (or Manqo Qhapaq) and his sister (also his wife) Mama Oqllu (or Ocllo). Three more brother-sister siblings were born, and the group set off together to found their civilization. Defeating the Chanca people with the help of stone warriors (pururaucas), the first Incas finally settled in the Valley of Cuzco and Manco Capac, throwing a golden rod into the ground, established what would become the Inca capital, Cuzco.
40,000 Incas governed a territory with 10 million subjects speaking over 30 different languages.
More concrete archaeological evidence has revealed that the first settlements in the Cuzco Valley actually date to 4500 BCE when hunter-gather communities occupied the area. However, Cuzco only became a significant centre sometime at the beginning of the Late Intermediate Period (1000-1400 CE). A process of regional unification began from the late 14th century CE, and from the early 15th century CE, with the arrival of the first great Inca leader Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui ('Reverser of the World') and the defeat of the Chanca in 1438 CE, the Incas began to expand in search of plunder and production resources, first to the south and then in all directions. They eventually built an empire which stretched across the Andes, conquering such peoples as the Lupaka, Colla, Chimor, and Wanka civilizations along the way. Once established, a nationwide system of tax and administration was instigated which consolidated the power of Cuzco.
The rise of the Inca Empire was spectacularly quick. First, all speakers of the Inca language Quechua (or Runasimi) were given privileged status, and this noble class then dominated all the important roles within the empire. Thupa Inca Yupanqui (also known as Topa Inca), Pachacuti's successor from 1471 CE, is credited with having expanded the empire by a massive 4,000 km (2,500 miles). The Incas themselves called their empire Tawantinsuyo (or Tahuantinsuyu) meaning 'Land of the Four Quarters' or 'The Four Parts Together'. Cuzco was considered the navel of the world, and radiating out were highways and sacred sighting lines (ceques) to each quarter: Chinchaysuyu (north), Antisuyu (east), Collasuyu (south), and Cuntisuyu (west). Spreading across ancient Ecuador, Peru, northern Chile, Bolivia, upland Argentina, and southern Colombia and stretching 5,500 km (3,400 miles) north to south, 40,000 Incas governed a huge territory with some 10 million subjects speaking over 30 different languages.

Government & Administration

The Incas kept lists of their kings (Sapa Inca) so that we know of such names as Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui (reign c. 1438-63 CE), Thupa Inca Yupanqui (reign c. 1471-93 CE), and Wayna Qhapaq (the last pre-Hispanic ruler, reign c. 1493-1525 CE). It is possible that two kings ruled at the same time and that queens may have had some significant powers, but the Spanish records are not clear on both points. The Sapa Inca was an absolute ruler, and he lived a life of great opulence. Drinking from gold and silver cups, wearing silver shoes, and living in a palace furnished with the finest textiles, he was pampered to the extreme. He was even looked after following his death, as the Inca mummified their rulers. Stored in the Coricancha temple in Cuzco, the mummies (mallquis) were, in elaborate ceremonies, regularly brought outside wearing their finest regalia, given offerings of food and drink, and 'consulted' for their opinion on pressing state affairs.
Inca rule was, much like their architecture, based on compartmentalised and interlocking units. At the top was the ruler and ten kindred groups of nobles called panaqa. Next in line came ten more kindred groups, more distantly related to the king and then, a third group of nobles not of Inca blood but made Incas as a privilege. At the bottom of the state apparatus were locally recruited administrators who oversaw settlements and the smallest Andean population unit the ayllu, which was a collection of households, typically of related families who worked an area of land, lived together and provided mutual support in times of need. Each ayllu was governed by a small number of nobles or kurakas, a role which could include women.
Local administrators reported to over 80 regional-level administrators who, in turn, reported to a governor responsible for each quarter of the empire. The four governors reported to the supreme Inca ruler in Cuzco. To ensure loyalty, the heirs of local rulers were also kept as well-kept prisoners at the Inca capital. The most important political, religious, and military roles within the empire were, then, kept in the hands of the Inca elite, called by the Spanish the orejones or 'big ears' because they wore large earspools to indicate their status. To better ensure the control of this elite over their subjects, garrisons dotted the empire, and entirely new administrative centres were built, notably at Tambo Colorado, Huánuco Pampa and Hatun Xauxa.
For tax purposes censuses were taken and populations divided up into groups based on multiples of ten (Inca mathematics was almost identical to the system we use today). As there was no currency in the Inca world, taxes were paid in kind - usually foodstuffs, precious metals, textiles, exotic feathers, dyes, and spondylus shell - but also in labourers who could be shifted about the empire to be used where they were most needed, known as mit'a service. Agricultural land and herds were divided into three parts: production for the state religion and the gods, for the Inca ruler, and for the farmers own use. Local communities were also expected to help build and maintain such imperial projects as the road system which stretched across the empire. To keep track of all these statistics, the Inca used the quipu, a sophisticated assembly of knots and strings which was also highly transportable and could record decimals up to 10,000.
Although the Incas imposed their religion and administration on conquered peoples, extracted tribute, and even moved loyal populations (mitmaqs) to better integrate new territories into the empire, the Incas also brought certain benefits such as food redistribution in times of environmental disaster, better storage facilities for foodstuffs, work via state-sponsored projects, state-sponsored religious feasts, roads, military assistance and luxury goods, especially art objects enjoyed by the local elite.
Most splendid were the temples built in honour of Inti and Mama Kilya - the former was lined with 700 2kg sheets of beaten gold.

Cuzco

The Inca capital of Cuzco (from qosqo, meaning 'dried-up lake bed' or perhaps derived from cozco, a particular stone marker in the city) was the religious and administrative centre of the empire and had a population of up to 150,000 at its peak. Dominated by the sacred gold-covered and emerald-studded Coricancha complex (or Temple of the Sun), its greatest buildings were credited to Pachacuti. Most splendid were the temples built in honour of Inti and Mama Kilya - the former was lined with 700 2kg sheets of beaten gold, the latter with silver. The whole capital was laid out in the form of a puma (although some scholars dispute this and take the description metaphorically) with the imperial metropolis of Pumachupan forming the tail and the temple complex of Sacsayhuaman (or Saqsawaman) forming the head. Incorporating vast plazas, parklands, shrines, fountains, and canals, the splendour of Inca Cuzco now, unfortunately, survives only in the eye-witness accounts of the first Europeans who marvelled at its architecture and riches.

Inca Religion

The Inca had great reverence for two earlier civilizations who had occupied much the same territory - the Wari and Tiwanaku. As we have seen, the sites of Tiwanaku and Lake Titicaca played an important part in Inca creation myths and so were especially revered. Inca rulers made regular pilgrimages to Tiwanaku and the islands of the lake, where two shrines were built to Inti the Sun god and supreme Inca deity, and the moon goddess Mama Kilya. Also in the Coricancha complex at Cuzco, these deities were represented by large precious metal artworks which were attended and worshipped by priests and priestesses led by the second most important person after the king: the High Priest of the Sun (Willaq Umu). Thus, the religion of the Inca was preoccupied with controlling the natural world and avoiding such disasters as earthquake, floods, and drought, which inevitably brought about the natural cycle of change, the turning over of time involving death and renewal which the Inca called pachakuti.
Sacred sites were also established, often taking advantage of prominent natural features such as mountain tops, caves, and springs. These huacas could be used to take astronomical observations at specific times of the year. Religious ceremonies took place according to the astronomical calendar, especially the movements of the sun, moon, and Milky Way (Mayu). Processions and ceremonies could also be connected to agriculture, especially the planting and harvesting seasons. Along with Titicaca's Island of the Sun, the most sacred Inca site was Pachacamac, a temple city built in honour of the god with the same name, who created humans, plants, and was responsible for earthquakes. A large wooden statue of the god, considered an oracle, brought pilgrims from across the Andes to worship at Pachacamac. Shamans were another important part of Inca religion and were active in every settlement. Cuzco had 475, the most important being the yacarca, the personal advisor to the ruler.
Inca religious rituals also involved ancestor worship as seen through the practice of mummification and making offerings to the gods of food, drink, and precious materials. Sacrifices - both animals and humans, including children - were also made to pacify and honour the gods and ensure the good health of the king. The pouring of libations, either water or chicha beer, was also an important part of Inca religious ceremonies.
The Incas imposed their religion on local populations by building their own temples and sacred sites, and they also commandeered sacred relics from conquered peoples and held them in Cuzco. Stored in the Coricancha, they were perhaps considered hostages which ensured compliance to the Inca view of the world.

Inca Architecture & Roads

Master stone masons, the Incas constructed large buildings, walls and fortifications using finely-worked blocks - either regular or polygonal - which fitted together so precisely no mortar was needed. With an emphasis on clean lines, trapezoid shapes, and incorporating natural features into these buildings, they have easily withstood the powerful earthquakes which frequently hit the region. The distinctive sloping trapezoid form and fine masonry of Inca buildings were, besides their obvious aesthetic value, also used as a recognisable symbol of Inca domination throughout the empire.
One of the most common Inca buildings was the ubiquitous one-room storage warehouse the qollqa. Built in stone and well-ventilated, they were either round and stored maize or square for potatoes and tubers. The kallanka was a very large hall used for community gatherings. More modest buildings include the kancha - a group of small single-room and rectangular buildings (wasi and masma) with thatched roofs built around a courtyard enclosed by a high wall. The kancha was a typical architectural feature of Inca towns, and the idea was exported to conquered regions. Terracing to maximise land area for agriculture (especially for maize) was another Inca practice, which they exported wherever they went. These terraces often included canals, as the Incas were expert at diverting water, carrying it across great distances, channelling it underground, and creating spectacular outlets and fountains.
Goods were transported across the empire along purpose-built roads using llamas and porters (there were no wheeled vehicles). The Inca road network covered over 40,000 km and as well as allowing for the easy movement of armies, administrators, and trade goods, it was also a very powerful visual symbol of Inca authority over their empire. The roads had rest stations along their way, and there was also a relay system of runners (chasquis) who carried messages up to 240 km in a single day from one settlement to another.

Inca Art

Although influenced by the art and techniques of the Chimu civilization, the Incas did create their own distinctive style which was an instantly recognisable symbol of imperial dominance across the empire. Inca art is best seen in highly polished metalwork (in gold - considered the sweat of the sun, silver - considered the tears of the moon, and copper), ceramics, and textiles, with the last being considered the most prestigious by the Incas themselves. Designs often use geometrical shapes, are technically accomplished, and standardized. The checkerboard stands out as a very popular design. One of the reasons for repeated designs was that pottery and textiles were often produced for the state as a tax, and so artworks were representative of specific communities and their cultural heritage. Just as today coins and stamps reflect a nation's history, so, too, Andean artwork offered recognisable motifs which either represented the specific communities making them or the imposed designs of the ruling Inca class ordering them.
Works using precious metals such as discs, jewellery, figures, and everyday objects were made exclusively for Inca nobles, and even some textiles were restricted for their use alone. Goods made using the super-soft vicuña wool were similarly restricted, and only the Inca ruler could own vicuña herds. Ceramics were for wider use, and the most common shape was the urpu, a bulbous vessel with a long neck and two small handles low on the pot which was used for storing maize. It is notable that the pottery decoration, textiles, and architectural sculpture of the Incas did not usually include representations of themselves, their rituals, or such common Andean images as monsters and half-human, half-animal figures.
The Inca produced textiles, ceramics, and metal sculpture technically superior to any previous Andean culture, and this despite stiff competition from such masters of metal work as the expert craftsmen of the Moche civilization. Just as the Inca imposed a political dominance over their conquered subjects, so, too, with art they imposed standard Inca forms and designs, but they did allow local traditions to maintain their preferred colours and proportions. Gifted artists such as those from Chan Chan or the Titicaca area and women particularly skilled at weaving were brought to Cuzco so that they could produce beautiful things for the Inca rulers.

Collapse

The Inca Empire was founded on, and maintained by, force, and the ruling Incas were very often unpopular with their subjects (especially in the northern territories), a situation that the Spanish conquistadores, led by Francisco Pizarro, would take full advantage of in the middle decades of the 16th century CE. The Inca Empire, in fact, had still not reached a stage of consolidated maturity when it faced its greatest challenge. Rebellions were rife, and the Incas were engaged in a war in Ecuador where a second Inca capital had been established at Quito. Even more serious, the Incas were hit by an epidemic of European diseases, such as smallpox, which had spread from central America even faster than the European invaders themselves, and the wave killed a staggering 65-90% of the population. Such a disease killed Wayna Qhapaq in 1528 CE and two of his sons, Waskar and Atahualpa, battled in a damaging civil war for control of the empire just when the European treasure-hunters arrived. It was this combination of factors - a perfect storm of rebellion, disease, and invasion - which brought the downfall of the mighty Inca Empire, the largest and richest ever seen in the Americas.
The Inca language Quechua lives on today and is still spoken by some eight million people. There are also a good number of buildings, artefacts, and written accounts which have survived the ravages of conquerors, looters, and time. These remains are proportionally few to the vast riches which have been lost, but they remain indisputable witnesses to the wealth, ingenuity, and high cultural achievements of this great, but short-lived civilization.
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[ 2 ]

Inca Art

Origin and history
by Mark Cartwright

The art of the Inca civilization of Peru (c. 1425-1532 CE) produced some of the finest works ever crafted in the ancient Americas. Inca art is best seen in highly polished metalwork, ceramics, and, above all, textiles, with the last being considered the most prestigious by the Incas themselves. Designs often use geometrical shapes, are standardized, and technically accomplished. The European invaders destroyed much of Inca art either for sheer monetary gain or religious reasons but enough examples survive as testimony to the magnificent range and skills of Inca artists.

Influences & Designs

Although influenced by the art and techniques of the earlier Chimu civilization, the Incas did create their own distinctive style which was an instantly recognisable symbol of imperial dominance across their massive empire. The Incas would go on to produce textiles, ceramics, and metal sculpture technically superior to any previous Andean culture, and this despite stiff competition from such masters of metalwork as the craftsmen of the Moche civilization.
Just as the Incas imposed a political dominance over their conquered subjects, so too with art, they imposed standard Inca forms and designs. The art itself did not suffer as a consequence, though. As art historian Rebecca Stone puts it,
Standardisation, though powerfully unifying, did not necessarily lower the quality of art; technically Inca tapestry, large-scale ceramic vessels, mortar-less masonry, and miniature metal sculptures are unsurpassed. (Art of the Andes, 194)
The checkerboard stands out as a very popular design. One of the reasons for the repetition of designs was that pottery and textiles were often produced for the state as a tax, and so artworks were representative of specific communities and their cultural heritage. Just as today coins and stamps reflect a nation's history, so too, Andean artwork offered recognisable motifs which either represented the specific communities making them or the imposed designs of the ruling Inca class ordering them. The Incas did, though, allow local traditions to maintain their preferred colours and proportions. In addition, gifted artists such as those from Chan Chan or the Titicaca area and women particularly skilled at weaving were brought to Cuzco so that they could produce beautiful things for the Inca rulers.
Andean artwork offered recognisable motifs which represented the specific communities making them & the imposed designs of the ruling Inca class ordering them.
It is also notable that both Inca pottery decoration and textiles did not include representations of themselves, their rituals, their military conquests, or such common Andean images as monsters and half-human, half-animal figures. Rather, the Incas almost always preferred colourful geometrical designs and abstract motifs representing animals and birds.

Ceramics

Inca pottery used natural clay but added such materials as mica, sand, pulverised rock, and shell which prevented cracking during the firing process. There was no potter’s wheel in the ancient Americas and so vessels were made by hand, first creating a base and then laying a coil of clay around it until the vessel reached the size required. Then the sides were smoothed using a flat stone. Smaller and medium-sized vessels were made using clay moulds. Before firing, a clay ‘slip’ was added and the vessel was painted, incised (sometimes using stamps), or had reliefs added. In kilns, pits, or open fires, the vessel was then fired using the oxidising method (adding oxygen to the flames) to create red, yellow and cream coloured pottery, or, via the reduction method (limiting the oxygen supply) to produce black wares.
Ceramics were for wider use, and so forms were, above all, practical. The most common shape was the urpu, a bulbous vessel used for storing maize with a long neck, flared lip, two small handles low on the pot, and a pointed base. The point at the base pressed into the ground and stabilised the pot while maize was poured into it. There were standardized sizes of urpu based on their content volume. They were decorated with abstract plant motifs and geometrical designs, most commonly zig-zags and dots. Examples from Cuzco are more elegant than those from other regions and are painted a distinctive black on red.
Other types of ceramics are large flat serving dishes with animal figure handles, bowls, tall qeros beakers (made in pairs and also in wood), and the paccha. The latter was a hollow tube in the shape of a foot plough, typically decorated with three-dimensional additions such as a corn cob and urpu. The paccha (meaning ‘waterfall’) was placed into the ground so that maize beer could be ritually poured into it in ceremonies to promote a good harvest.

Metalwork

Objects using precious metals such as discs, jewellery, figurines, ceremonial knives (tumi), lime dippers, and everyday objects were made exclusively for Inca nobles. Gold was considered the sweat of the sun, and silver was considered the tears of the moon. Copper was another popular material, and these metals would have been inlaid with precious stones such as emeralds, polished semi-precious stones like lapis lazuli, polished bone, and spondylus shell. Alternatively, gold and silver were inlaid into bronze. Metals were alloyed, cast, beaten, incised, embossed, beaded, and used as gilding. Inca jewellery pieces made from precious metals included earrings, earspools, pendants, bracelets, and dress pins.
The Inca royalty only drank from gold and silver beakers, and their shoes had silver soles. Surviving figurines, both of humans and llamas, found in burial sites were made either by cast or with up to 18 separate sheets of gold and carved in intricate life-like detail. Gold and silver were also used for many religious pieces, especially representations of natural phenomena and places the Incas held sacred. These works represented the sun, moon, stars, rainbows, lightning, waterfalls, and so on. Masks representing the principal gods such as Inti the god of the sun and Mama Kilya the goddess of the moon, along with other sacred objects, were then placed within Inca temples but these have since been lost.
Perhaps the most famously lost Inca art piece is a gold statue of Inti, represented as a small seated boy and known as Punchao, which was kept in the Temple of the Sun, at the Coricancha (Qorikancha) sacred complex at Cuzco. With rays projecting from his head and decorated with gold jewellery, the stomach of this figure was used as a receptacle for the ashes of the burned vital organs of previous Inca kings. Each day the statue was brought outside of the temple to bask in the sun. Following the Spanish conquest the figure was removed and hidden, never to be found again.
The Coricancha also had a stunning garden dedicated to Inti. Everything in it was made of gold and silver. A large field of corn and life-size models of shepherds, llamas, jaguars, guinea pigs, monkeys, birds and even butterflies and insects were all crafted in precious metal. All that survives of these wonders are a few golden corn stalks, a convincing, if silent, testimony to the lost treasures of Inca metalworkers.

Textiles

Although very few examples of Inca textiles survive from the heartland of the empire, we do have, thanks to the dryness of the Andean environment, many textile examples from the highlands and mountain burial sites. In addition, Spanish chroniclers often made drawings of textile designs and clothing so that we have a reasonable picture of the varieties in use. Consequently, we have many more examples of textiles than other crafts such as ceramics and metalwork.
For the Incas, finely worked and highly decorative textiles came to symbolize both wealth and status. Fine cloth could be used as both a tax and currency, and the very best textiles became amongst the most prized of all possessions, even more precious than gold or silver. Inca weavers were technically the most accomplished the Americas had ever seen and, with up to 120 wefts per centimetre, the best fabrics were considered the most precious gifts of all. As a result, when the Spanish arrived in the early 16th century CE, it was textiles and not metal goods which were given in welcome to these visitors from another world.
It seems that both men and women created textiles, but it was a skill women of all classes were expected to be accomplished at. At the capital Cuzco, the finest cloth was made by male specialists known as qumpicamayocs or 'keepers of the fine cloth'. The principal equipment was the backstrap loom for smaller pieces and either the horizontal single-heddle loom or vertical loom with four poles for larger pieces. Spinning was done with a drop spindle, typically in ceramic or wood. Inca textiles were made using cotton (especially on the coast and in the eastern lowlands) or llama, alpaca, and vicuña wool (more common in the highlands) which can be exceptionally fine. Goods made using the super-soft vicuña wool were restricted and only the Inca ruler could own vicuña herds. Rougher textiles were also made using maguey fibres.
The principal colours used in Inca textiles were black, white, green, yellow, orange, purple, and red. These colours came from natural dyes which were extracted from plants, minerals, insects, and molluscs. Colours also had specific associations. For example, red was equated with conquest, rulership, and blood. This was most clearly seen in the Mascaypacha, the Inca state insignia, where each thread of its red tassel symbolised a conquered people. Green represented rainforests, the peoples who inhabited them, ancestors, rain and its consequent agricultural growth, coca, and tobacco. Black signified creation and death, while yellow could signal maize or gold. Purple was, as in the rainbow, considered the first colour and associated with Mama Oclla, the founding mother of the Inca race.
Besides using dyed strands to weave patterns, other techniques included embroidery, tapestry, mixing different layers of cloth, and painting – either by hand or using wooden stamps. The Incas favoured abstract geometric designs, especially checkerboard motifs, which repeated patterns (tocapus) across the surface of the cloth. Certain patterns may also have been ideograms. Non-geometrical subjects, often rendered in abstract form, included felines (especially jaguars and pumas), llamas, snakes, birds, sea creatures, and plants. Clothes were simply patterned, commonly with square designs at the waist and fringes and a triangle marking the neck. One such design was the standard military tunic which consisted of a black and white checkerboard design with an inverted red triangle at the neck.
Inca Military Tunic
Additional decoration could be added to textile articles in the form of tassels, brocade, feathers, and beads of precious metal or shell. Precious metal threads could also be woven into the cloth itself. As feathers were usually from rare tropical birds and condors, these garments were reserved for the royal family and nobility.

Conclusion

The European invaders in the 16th century CE not only ruthlessly melted down or spirited away any precious Inca goods they found but also attempted to repress elements of Inca art, even banning such trivial objects as the qeros beakers in an attempt to curb drinking habits. Distinctive Inca textile designs such as those connected to royal power were also discouraged but, in defiance, many of the indigenous peoples continued with their artistic traditions. Thanks to this perseverance and continuity, and despite an evolution where designs were blended with elements of colonial art, many traditional Inca designs and motifs survive to this day and are celebrated as such in the ceramics, metalwork, and textiles of modern Peru.
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[ 3 ]

Inca Architecture

Origin and history
by Mark Cartwright

Inca architecture includes some of the most finely worked stone structures from any ancient civilization. Inca buildings were almost always practical and pleasing to the eye. They are also remarkably uniform in design with even grand imperial structures taking on a similar look to more humble buildings, the only significant differences being their much larger scale and quality of finish. Fond of duality in many other areas, another feature of Inca architecture is that it typically incorporated the natural landscape yet at the same time managed to dominate it to create an often spectacular blend of geometrical and natural forms.

Materials

Stone was the material of choice and was finely worked to produce a precise arrangement of interlocking blocks in the finest buildings. The stone was of three types: Yucay limestone, green Sacsayhuaman diorite porphyry, and black andesite. Each block of stone could weigh many tons and they were quarried and shaped using nothing more than harder stones and bronze tools. Marks on the stone blocks indicate that they were mostly pounded into shape rather than cut. Blocks were moved using ropes, logs, poles, levers and ramps (tell-tale marks can still be seen on some blocks) and some stones still have nodes protruding from them or indentations which were used to help workers grip the stone. The fine cutting and setting of the blocks on site was so precise that mortar was not necessary. Finally, a finished surface was often provided using grinding stones and sand.
That rocks were roughly hewn in the quarries and then worked on again at the their final destination is clearly indicated by unfinished examples left at quarries and on various routes to building sites. The meticulous process of laying, removing, re-cutting and then re-laying blocks to make them fit exactly together was slow but experiments have demonstrated that it was much quicker than scholars had previously thought. Even so, it would have taken many months to produce a single wall. Interlocking blocks and sloping walls make Inca buildings extremely resistant, but not immune, to earthquake damage. 500 years of earthquakes have done remarkably little damage to Inca structures left in their complete state.
More humble structures used unworked field stones set with mud mortar or used bricks of dried mud (adobe) in areas with a drier climate. Both types of structure were typically covered in a layer of mud or clay plaster and then painted in bright colours. Walls at Puka Tampu, for example, still have traces of red, black, yellow and white paint.
Roofs were generally made of thatch from grasses or reeds placed on poles made of wood or cane. The poles were tied together using rope and fixed to the stone walls using stone pegs which protruded from them. These pegs could be fitted into the wall or be carved from one of the blocks, they could be circular or square, and they sometimes appear on interior walls to function as pegs, perhaps for textile wall coverings. Sometimes the top of the gable had a stone ring, again for attaching the roof. The incline of roofs was steeper in rainier parts of the empire, often 60 degrees.
Typical features are fine-cut stonework, trapezoid shapes, and purposely positioned portals.

Features

The vast majority of Inca buildings were rectangular and most of these had a single entrance and were composed of only one room as dividing walls are not common in Inca design. There are some rare examples of multiple-doored long rectangular structures and even buildings which were circular or U-shaped but the norm was for straight-walled structures. Most buildings had only a single storey but there are some structures with two, especially those built into hillsides and the more impressive imperial structures at the capital Cuzco where sometimes there are examples of three-storey buildings.
Inca exterior walls commonly slope inwards as they rise (typically around 5 degrees), giving the building a distinctive trapezoid form. The trapeziod form is more common in the north and centre of the empire and one of its optical effects is to make walls seem higher and thicker than they actually are. The trapezoid motif was repeated in doorways, windows and interior wall niches. Doorways and windows often also have double jambs and the former are usually topped with a large single stone lintel.
Architecture in the capital and the imperial buildings dotted across the empire were remarkably similar in their design to other more mundane structures. They were, of course, often much larger in scale and the quality of their stonework was much higher. They could also be more ambitious in design by employing curved walls and they could be decorated more lavishly, for example, with gold sheeting as at the sacred Coricancha precinct at Cuzco whose curved wall section survives in part today. This duality of lower and higher class buildings being the same yet different was very much a trait of the Inca culture in general.
Inca buildings may have been uniform in their basic design principles and may appear to lack individuality but the names of several architects have survived in the historical record - names like Huallpa Rimichi Inca, Inca Maricanchi, Acahuana, Sinchi Roca, and Calla Cunchuy - which suggests there was some individuality permissible in architectural design.

Structures

Rectangular buildings could be grouped in threes (or more) and arranged around an open but walled courtyard or patio, perhaps the most common Inca arrangement of buildings. This mini-complex is known as a kancha and functioned as administrative buildings, workshops, temples, accommodation or a mix of these. Very large buildings are known as a kallanka and these typically have several doors and face a large open space, often (once again) trapezoid in layout. They were probably used for public gatherings and as accommodation for representatives of the Inca administration and were clear public symbols of imperial control. Palaces were similar in design to smaller buildings just on a larger scale, with finer stonework and very often walled to restrict access and the viewing of royal personages.
Each major Inca settlement had an ushnu which symbolised imperial Inca control across the empire. The ushnu was a type of viewing platform for processions, important state-sponsored ceremonies, and judicial proceedings, and was located on one side of the principal plaza. Another feature of towns were gateways which often provided monumental entrances to towns and one of the most impressive must be the main gate of Quispiguanca with its two-storey tower and triple door jamb.
Collca (or Qollqa) were storehouses which were often built in groups or blocks. They could be round or rectangular but only had a single room. They are often situated on hillsides which gave them both good ventilation and shade, therefore, better preserving their perishable contents. Gravel under-flooring and drainage canals were additional aids in keeping the interior atmosphere dry and allowed for the storage of goods such as grain and potatoes for two years or more.
Inca settlements were rarely fortified as warfare was generally conducted via set-piece battles and the compliance of conquered peoples was ensured through political, economic and cultural means rather than military ones and imposing imperial architecture was an important part of the colonial process. However, there are exceptions. Some have seen Machu Picchu as a fortified site whilst last-stand settlements against the Spanish such as Ollantaytambo were fortified with large block terrace walls.
Hillside terracing, like buildings, used either loose rocks fixed with mud mortar or finely cut large blocks. They could extend the land available for cultivation and provide better water and drainage for crops but they were also sometimes merely decorative and planted with flowers. Those terraces at Pisac and Ollantaytambo are amongst the most impressive and their design has a definite and planned aesthetic effect.
Even rock outcrops were carved into functional forms by the Inca. For example, at Sacsayhuaman a throne-like carving with steps was cut into a stone hill. Sections of smaller rock outcrops could be cut into geometrical shapes or designs such as zig-zags and rectangles cut into the rock, their exact purpose unknown. Such works also purposely exploited the play of light and shadow to give a further geometrical dimension to the natural landscape. For example, the zig-zag walls at Sacsayhuaman create triangular shadows which seem to mirror the shadows created by the mountain peaks in the background. Rooms were also cut out of natural clefts in rock, one of the most famous being the temple shrine of the sun god Inti beneath the Torreón tower at Machu Picchu.

Setting

Town planning was an important point of consideration for Inca architects. Main roads often cut through towns at an angle, Huánuco Pampa is a good example. Entire zones of a town were built in alignment with the central plaza and its ushnu and royal residences typically faced the sunrise. More generally, the long sides of Inca buildings were usually set parallel to plazas. Blocks of buildings were never quite square and were intersected by narrow straight roads built only for pedestrians. Sometimes even the entire town had a planned form of its own, the most famous example was the intention that the layout of Cuzco should create the figure of a puma when seen from above.
Another important consideration for Inca architects was the placing of buildings, doors and windows in such a way that views were seen to their best advantage and that astronomical bodies and events - certain stars or the sun during the solstices, for example - were visible through these portals. It is rare for the portals of an Inca building not to consider the environment in which they were constructed.
On another level, Inca architects also very often sought to harmoniously blend their structures into the surrounding landscape. Perhaps the most famous example of this is Machu Picchu, which follows the contours of the hillside and even incorporates natural features such as large rocks into the actual buildings. Sometimes the outline of a sacred stone or building was even designed to mimic the contours of a natural feature such as a distant mountain. Other celebrated examples of walls seamlessly incorporating underlying rocks are the hunting lodge of Tambo Machay and the sacred fortress site of Sacsayhuaman at Cuzco. The result of this integration is a somehow harmonious blend of the organic and the geometric and a clear message was given that just as rulers can dominate a subject people, so too humanity can respect, but ultimately dominate, nature.
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[ 4 ]

Cusco

Origin and history
by Mark Cartwright

Cuzco (also Cusco or Qosqo) was the religious and administrative capital of the Inca Empire which flourished in ancient Peru between c. 1400 and 1534 CE. The Incas controlled territory from Quito to Santiago, making theirs the largest empire ever seen in the Americas and the largest in the world at that time. Cuzco, which had a population of up to 150,000 at its peak, was laid out in the form of a puma and was dominated by fine buildings and palaces, the richest of all being the sacred gold-covered and emerald-studded Coricancha complex which included a temple to the Inca sun god Inti.

Cuzco in Mythology

In mythology the Inca race was created by the great god Viracocha who caused them to be born from the sun god Inti. The first eight Incas were thus born at Tiwanaku or, in an alternative version, they emerged from the sacred Pacaritambo cave, and then they migrated down to the Cuzco valley. Led by Manco Capac (or Manko Qhapaq) and Mama Ocllo, the group fulfilled the earlier prophecy whereby they should settle where their golden staff could be easily driven into the ground. Before the Incas could prosper, though, they first had to defeat their local rivals, the Chanca, a feat they achieved with the help of stone giants, the pururaucas. This event did have a basis in reality, as the Incas did indeed defeat the Chanca in 1438 CE. Thus the Inca capital was established. The name Cuzco may derive from either qosqo, meaning 'dried-up lake bed' or cozco, a particular stone marker in the city.

Geography, Layout & Architecture

The geographical location of the site, on an ancient glacier lake bed and at a central point between natural routes leading off to diverse surrounding regions, was advantageous. The basin lies at an altitude of 3,450 metres and is surrounded by mountain peaks. Crops could be grown in the valley, and the hills provided good pasture. Cuzco is also the meeting point of three rivers - the Huatanay, Tullumayo, and Chunchul - making it especially significant and auspicious in the Inca mind. In typical Inca fashion, where nature was adapted but never abused, the rivers were canalized and diverted to create the space necessary for a large city.
Cuzco saw a great period of re-building in the mid-15th century CE during the reign of Pachacuti, known as 'Reverser of the World'.
First habitation of settled populations was actually as early as 500 BCE or earlier, and the main pre-Inca settlement was Chanapata. Decorated pottery survives from this period, but there is no evidence of large buildings, artworks, or metal. Similarly, there are no remains from the Tiwanaku period at the Cuzco site itself. Cuzco really began to take shape from around 1200 CE but only took on the grandeur of a capital during the reign of Inca Roca in the 14th century CE. From that point on each Inca ruler built his own palace, a great walled residential complex. In addition, from 1400 CE the Incas embarked on ambitious campaigns to conquer neighbouring territory, eventually building a huge empire with Cuzco as the administrative and religious capital.
The city saw a great period of re-building and expansion in the mid-15th century CE during the reign of Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui, known as 'Reverser of the World'. The swamp area in the north was drained, and the heart of the city moved there. Large ceremonial plazas were laid out, the Sacsayhuaman (or Saqsawaman) fortress, which protected the north of the city, was built, and the sacred Coricancha complex was rebuilt to more appropriately reflect the wealth and power of the Inca Empire. Other building works over time, which increased the spread of Cuzco to some 40 hectares, seem to have been less deliberately planned, resulting in an irregular shaped urban area.
The whole capital was built around four principal highways which led to the four quarters of the empire. The city was also laid out in the form of a puma (although some scholars dispute this and take the description metaphorically) with the imperial metropolis of Pumachupan forming the tail, the main plaza representing the body, and the temple complex of Sacsayhuaman forming the head. The entire city was also divided into two distinct parts called the hanan and hurin; the former, in the north, was higher in elevation and more prestigious than its lower, southern, counterpart. Five noble families occupied each sector. The centre was dominated by the double plazas of Haucaypata ('Terrace of Repose') and Cusipata ('Fortunate Terrace') which, covered in imported sand, hosted religious and state ceremonies. These would be presided over by the Inca king, seated on his carved stone throne on a raised platform, the usnu, which also had a pillar for taking sightings of celestial bodies. Here there was also a giant stone basin covered in gold into which were poured libations of chicha beer. Dominating the plaza was the Sunturwasi, a spire which was the tallest structure in Cuzco.
Incorporating kanchas (small groups of buildings organised around a courtyard all within a high-walled enclosure), vast plazas, parklands, sacred agricultural fields, shrines, fountains, and canals, yet with the narrow streets of a culture without wheeled vehicles, the city was largely reserved for priests, nobility, and administrators, while the farming and artisan communities were spread out beyond Cuzco's walls where there were also hundreds of qollqa storehouses which had a huge storage capacity. The city proper had a population of around 40,000 with another 200,000 in the surrounding area at the time of the Spanish conquest.
Cuzco was also an important component in the propaganda of Inca rule. It was encouraged to be venerated by Inca subjects as a sacred site. This policy also entailed tributes both in real value objects, such as gold and artworks, but also in people, either rulers and/or their family members kept as hostages, forcibly relocated artists and skilled craftsmen and women, and the provision of sacrificial victims. In addition, radiating out from Cuzco were 41 sacred sight lines (ceques) and well-paved roads which divided both space and time and reminded that Cuzco was the centre of the world. Finally, small models of Cuzco have been discovered across the empire which must have spread the news of the capital's great size and wealth.

Coricancha

Most splendid of Cuzco's buildings was the Coricancha (Qorikancha), with its temples (wasi) built in honour of Inti, the moon goddess Mama Kilya (Quilla), the creator god Viracocha, Venus or Chaska-Qoylor, the god of thunder Illapa, and finally one for Cuichu the rainbow god. Each wasi contained a cult statue of that particular god and precious art and religious objects connected to them. The Coricancha, also known as the Golden Enclosure, was thus the most sacred of all Inca sites and considered the very centre of the world.
Built using the fine masonry skills for which the Inca have rightly become famous, the massive walls of the complex were built from large stone blocks finely cut and fitted together without mortar. The interior buildings were of one storey and had thatched roofs. The doors were also covered in gold sheets, as were the interiors and exteriors of the various temples, and the inner side of the perimeter wall was even said to have been studded with emeralds. The temple to Inti, also known as the Temple of the Sun, was lined with 700 2 kg sheets of beaten gold, symbolizing the sweat of the god, and Mama Kilya's temple was similarly lined with silver, symbolizing the tears of the moon.
Inside the Temple of the Sun, besides golden artefacts relevant to the god's worship, was a gold statue of Inti encrusted with jewels. The statue represented Inti as a small seated boy called Punchao (Day or Midday Sun). Another important representation of the god - a giant mask with zigzag rays bursting from the head - was hung from the wall of an especially dedicated chamber within the temple. The garden of the temple was even more spectacular. Just as land - sometimes even entire regions - were dedicated to the god, so too, this garden was constructed in honour of the great sun god. Everything in it was made of gold and silver. A large field of corn and life-size models of shepherds, llamas, jaguars, guinea pigs, monkeys, birds, and even butterflies and insects were all crafted in precious metal. And if that wasn't enough to please Inti, there was also a large number of gold and silver jars all encrusted with precious stones. All that survives of these wonders are a few golden corn stalks, a convincing, if silent, testimony to the lost treasures of Coricancha.
The Coricancha also had a dedicated space for the mummified remains of former Inca emperors and their wives, known as mallquis. These were brought out of storage during special ceremonies such as those celebrating the solstices. There were also living quarters for priests and priestesses, and still other rooms of the complex were used as art and religious treasuries stuffed with artefacts taken from conquered peoples. These may well have been kept in order to guarantee compliance to Inca rule, just as conquered rulers were sometimes held hostage at Cuzco for periods of the year. Yet another interesting feature of the site was an underground channel through which sacred water flowed to the surrounding squares outside the complex.
Other important functions of the Coricancha included the taking of astronomical observations, especially of the Milky Way (Mayu). Sacrificial victims (capacochas) were also made ready for their great moment in the precinct's courtyard and then marched along the ceque lines to be sacrificed in the various provinces in honour of Inti and his living incarnation, the Inca emperor.

Sacsayhuaman

The fortress of Sacsayhuaman, built by Pachacuti, was likely first constructed using mud and clay, later to be replaced by magnificent stone work which employed huge finely cut blocks, many weighing over 100 tons. Designed by four architects (Huallpa Rimachi, Maricanchi, Acahuana, and Calla Cunchui) and built using 20,000 tribute labourers, the structure has three terraces set in zigzag fashion so that each wall has up to 40 segments which allowed the defenders to catch attackers in a crossfire. Only one small doorway on each terrace gave access to the interior buildings and towers on the hillside behind. The fortress was said to have had a capacity for 1,000 warriors. Following the collapse of the empire, most of the stones were re-used elsewhere, and the ruins were covered in earth to prevent their use by rebel forces.

Destruction

The Incas expanded their territory to such a degree that a mere 40,000 Incas controlled an empire of 10 million subjects. The Inca Empire was founded on, and maintained by, force which made the leaders unpopular with their subjects (especially in the northern territories), a situation that the Spanish Conquistadores, led by Francisco Pizarro, would take full advantage of in the middle decades of the 16th century CE. The Inca Empire also had to face various rebellions including a war in Ecuador where a second Inca capital had been established at Quito. Even more serious, the Incas were hit by an epidemic of European diseases such as smallpox which had spread from Central America even faster than the European invaders themselves, and the wave killed a staggering 65-90% of the population. Such a disease killed Wayna Qhapaq in 1528 CE and two of his sons, Waskar and Atahualpa, battled in a damaging civil war for control of the empire just when the European treasure-hunters arrived. It was this combination of factors - a perfect storm of rebellion, disease, and invasion - which ultimately brought the downfall of Cuzco and the mighty Inca Empire.
Cuzco was sacked, its main buildings either burned and destroyed or taken to pieces for reuse in new construction projects. Thus the once golden splendour of Inca Cuzco now, unfortunately, survives only in the eye-witness accounts of the first Europeans who marvelled at its architecture and riches and the odd stretch of Inca walls, especially the precisely cut supporting walls of the Dominican monastery.
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[ 5 ]

Inti

Origin and history
by Mark Cartwright

Inti was the Inca god of the sun and considered all-powerful but he was also a benevolent god and capable of great generosity. However, Inti could be angered and he would demonstrate his displeasure through solar eclipses which necessitated sacrifices to win back the god's good favour. Inca rulers considered themselves direct descendants of Inti, the patron of empire and military conquest.

Inti's Relations & Role

Inti was the sun, which in Inca mythology was created by the supreme Inca deity Viracocha from an island on Lake Titicaca. Although Viracocha was higher in status, he usually remained in the background of worldly affairs and allowed intermediaries such as Inti to actually govern the world. Inti was married to the goddess of the moon Quilla. Neatly linking the gods to mankind, the first Inca leader and founder of the civilization, Manoc Capac (previously called Ayar Manco) was believed either to have been instructed by Inti or actually been his son, along with the other original Inca ancestors such as Mama Coya (a.k.a. Mama Ocllo) who was also described as Inti's wife in some versions of the myth. In this way the successive Inca rulers could claim divine lineage and emphasise their role as intermediary between the gods and ordinary people. Manoc Capac even wore a sheet-gold costume to impress the populace with his divine parentage. However, it was not until Wiraqocha Inca (c. 1425 CE) or the 9th Inca ruler Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui (1438-1471 CE) that the cult of Inti really became established in the cultural practices of the Inca. With the expansion of the Inca empire sun worship was incorporated into the religions of the conquered peoples and used as an imperial propaganda that the Inca were the people with a divine right to rule.
The Coricancha temple ('House of the Sun') and Sacsahuaman sacred precinct at the Inca capital of Cuzco were dedicated to Inti.

The Coricancha

The Coricancha temple ('House of the Sun') and Sacsahuaman sacred precinct at the Inca capital of Cuzco were dedicated to Inti and probably built in the reign of Pachacuti. It was here that the most senior figure in the Inca religion, the High Priest of the Sun (Villac Umu), presided over rites in honour of Inti, assisted by acllas (or acyllyaconas) - young virgin priestesses. There were also sun ceremonies carried out by both male and female priests at sacred sites across the empire. Perhaps the most famous example is at Machu Picchu where a typical intihuatana or 'hitching post of the sun' situated at the highest point of the sacred precinct was used during the solstices to symbolically connect the sun to the earth using a special cord. The intihuatana were also used for regular astronomical observations of the sun and possibly other heavenly bodies. Other important temples were at Pisac (north-east of Cuzco), Ingapirca (in modern Ecuador), and on the Island of the Sun on Lake Titicaca which Inca rulers visited once a year in pilgrimage.

Inti Raymi

Inti was especially worshipped during the festival of Inti Raymi held during the winter solstice in June and run over several days. One of the most common sacrifices to Inti was of white llamas but offerings of food, other livestock and even areas of farmland were also dedicated to the god. There were human sacrifices too (including child sacrifice) on special ceremonial occasions or in times of particular crisis such as earthquakes or a death in the royal family. Such ceremonies were designed to ensure the continued success of the Inca empire, its people and their harvests. One curious story is when an eagle was attacked by buzzards and fell from the skies during a ceremony in honour of Inti held in c. 1526 CE which was thought to foretell the collapse of the Inca empire. It was, indeed, around this time that the first signs of the deadly smallpox disease brought by the Spanish conquistadors from the Old World began to appear amongst the Inca population and it would be less than a decade before the Inca capital fell into Spanish hands.

Representations in Art

Inti was not often represented in Inca art but when he was it was usually as a gold statue, a sun disk or a golden mask. Gold was particularly associated with the god as it was believed that the precious metal was the sweat of the sun. The most sacred statue of Inti was kept in his shrine at Cuzco. The interior of this temple was a wonder in itself as it was lined with 700 half-metre panels of beaten gold whilst outside was a life-size scene of a field of corn with llamas and shepherds all made from gold and silver. The statue represented Inti as a small seated boy, called Punchao (Day or Midday Sun). From his head and shoulders the sun's rays shone, he wore a royal headband and had snakes and lions coming out of his body. The stomach of the statue was hollow and used to store the ashes of the vital organs of previous Inca rulers. Everyday this statue was brought out into the open air and returned to the shrine each night. The statue was taken to a place of safety when the Spanish arrived in the 1530s CE but it seems that they did eventually find it in 1572 CE but it disappeared without trace, probably melted down like so many other Inca artefacts.
The masks of Inti were typically made of thinly beaten gold and also had the sun's rays bursting from the god's head in a design common in pre-Inca deity masks. These rays were typically cut in a dramatic zig-zag fashion and sometimes ended in a small human face or figure. The most famous such mask was on display within the Coricancha temple at Cuzco.
The god's worshippers and the vast majority of the art made in his name have long since disappeared but Inti lives on in several present day South American cultures. The festival of Inti Raymi has been revived as a great yearly festival in Cuzco, several national flags bear an image of him in the form of a flaming sun, and the currency of Peru in the 1980s CE was called the inti and even now still references him with its new name sol - sun in Spanish.
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[ 6 ]

Lake Titicaca

Origin and history
by Mark Cartwright

Lake Titicaca is located between Bolivia and Peru and, at an altitude of 3,800 metres (12,500 feet), it is the world's highest navigable lake. The tundra plain known as the altiplano stretches to the south and was the location of Tiwanaku, capital of one of the most important Andean cultures during the first millennium CE. The lake was also considered to be the centre of the cosmos and origin of the sun, moon, stars, and humankind and, consequently, was one of the most sacred sites for the Inca civilization.

In Mythology

Lake Titicaca was long considered the origin and centre of the cosmos by the local populace and then also the later Incas. In their creation myths, Viracocha or Wiraqocha Pachayachachic, the creator god, populated the world with a race of stone giants. These proved unruly and so Viracocha made humans instead but, unimpressed with their greed and hubris, the god sent a great flood upon the earth. All but three humans were destroyed but, from these survivors, the human race once again sprang forth. The world was still in darkness, though, so Viracocha made the sun, moon and stars from islands in the centre of Lake Titicaca. In an interesting aside, the sun became jealous of the brightness of the moon and threw ashes in her face so that now her light was dimmed.

Early Settlement

The area around the lake was first settled in the mid-2nd millennium BCE with pottery finds at Chiripa on the southern shore being amongst the oldest artefacts. As with other late cultures, the llama, vucuna, and alpaca were a source of wool, transport, and, if necessary, food. The lake provided fish and totora reeds which were used to make boats, roofs and mats (a tradition which continues today). Potatoes, quinoa, and oca were also cultivated (corn could not be grown at the altitude of the altiplano) and metals such as gold, copper, and tin were extracted from the nearby mountains. Limitations on development, though, included the cold climate and absence of trees; factors which would eventually necessitate population movement to the warmer, more fertile, south.

Pucará & Tiwanaku

The first important and independent culture was to the northwest of the lake at Pucará (400 BCE - 100 CE) but very little besides red sandstone foundation slabs and some well-dressed wall stones survive of the settlement. Stone sculpture and pottery vessels have been excavated, and the latter display painted and incised decoration of geometric shapes, felines, and distinctive curved human forms, typically painted in red, brown, or cream.
The lake was considered the centre of the cosmos and the place of creation.
Even more significant was the site of Tiwanaku (or Tiahuanaco) which flourished from 200 BCE to 1000 CE on the southern shores of the lake and which became the capital of an extensive empire. The two cultures were parallel but seemingly independent, although there are common features such as sunken courts and some similarities in their respective artistic styles. The culture at Tiwanaku may also have been influenced by the nearby site of Chiripa, which predates it.
Monumental architecture first appeared at Tiwanaku from 200 CE with large walled courts, ceremonial pyramids, massive stone statues, and the celebrated Gateway of the Sun. Raised fields reclaimed marshy land from the shoreline and irrigation channels brought water from the lake which increased agricultural production. A moat was also created to surround the sacred precinct on three sides with the fourth side being the lake shore itself. The city stretched over 10 square kilometres and the peak population at Tiwanaku could have been as high as 70,000.
The reason for the collapse of Tiwanaku is unclear and may have been due to a combination of over-extension of the empire, rebellion, and climate change. A series of droughts at the turn of the millennium caused the level of the lake to eventually fall by 12 metres which was devastating for irrigation-dependent crops and greatly reduced the water-table creating parched fields unable to sustain agriculture. The area was never again able to recapture its former prosperity and, just when wetter weather came in the 15th century CE, so too did the Incas; and they were thirsty for conquest.

Inca Expansion

Lake Titicaca once again became an important locale with the rise of the Inca empire during the 15th and 16th centuries CE. The Incas were immediately attracted to the altiplano as a possible area of expansion but it did take them some time to conquer the Titicaca basin and its local cultures, the Lupaqa, Qolla and Ayaviris. The first expansion in the area occurred in the reign of Viracocha Inka from 1425 CE and then again under Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui (1438-1471 CE). However, it was the decisive victory, at the Desaguadero river which flows from the lake on the southern side, which finally ensured Inca control and brought ruthless reprisals on the local chiefs - their heads were displayed on poles and their bodies skinned to make drums. Reportedly, the Qolla leader was taken to Cuzco and, in a great ceremony, beheaded for his troubles.
The Lupaqa, Qolla, and Ayaviris probably had not advanced to a level of state organization by the time the Inca arrived and, by 1532 CE, a series of alliances between the locals and their Inca overlords had established 13 provinces around the lake. The subjugation of the cultures around Titicaca was completed by forced resettlement and employment elsewhere in the empire and by the prohibition of settlement in fortified hilltop sites. Lupaqa architecture and burial practices, in particular, came to display the familiar traits of Inca architecture - rectangular floor plans and well-dressed stonework.
The Incas incorporated the local myths concerning the lake into their own history by adopting it as a sacred site with temples to the sun (Inti) and moon (Coati) constructed on islands on the lake, the building of a sanctuary on the Copacabana promontory, the setting aside of land for the sun god Inti on the northern shores, and the veneration of the ancient ruins of Tiwanaku on the southern shore. The Inca founder leaders, which included Manco Capac and his sister (or wife) Mama Ocllo, were thought to have come from the lake area and successive Inca rulers would also make annual pilgrimmages to these sacred sites.

Archaeological Remains

At Chucaripupataon, on the Island of the Sun on the lake, artefacts made with copper, silver, and gold have been excavated and include a gold mask. It was also here that the sacred rock of Titikala was located. Remains of various buildings have been excavated on the two sacred islands. One such structure is a two-storey residential building known as Pilco Kayma and another, known, rather grandly, as the 'Palace of the Virgins of the Sun', is traditionally dated to the reign of Thupa Inca Yupanqui (last quarter 15th century CE). The two-storey complex has six symmetricaly arranged apartments, a courtyard, and a 40 metre long open terrace on the upper floor. The building has the typical features of Inca architecture - trapezoid shapes, well-cut and close-fitting masonry, and walls with niches.
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[ 7 ]

Coricancha

Origin and history
by Mark Cartwright

The religious complex of Coricancha (Qorikancha) in the Inca capital at Cuzco contained the Temple of the Sun which was not only the most sacred site or huaca in the Inca religion but was considered the very centre of the Inca world. The site was also known as the Golden Enclosure and was dedicated to the highest gods in the Inca pantheon such as the Creator god Viracocha, the moon goddess Quilla and especially to Inti, the god of the sun. Little remains today except some sections of its fine stone walls which hint at the site's once massive size and the legendary stories which tell of the enormous quantity of gold used to decorate the temples and its golden garden.

Layout & Architecture

The construction of the complex is commonly attributed to Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui, the 9th Inca ruler (1438-1471 CE) who also embarked on a general rebuilding programme in the capital. Despite excavations, though, the exact chronology of the site is not clear. In Inca mythology the first Inca leader Manco Capac (Manqo Qhapaq) built a temple at the site in the early 12th century CE and archaeology does show evidence of pre-empire structures.
The lay-out of the site, as seen from above, actually resembled a sun with rays shining out in all directions. These were the sacred ceque (zeq'e) lines - physical and cosmic roads - of which there were 41 which led to an impressive 328 sacred sites. Cuzco itself was deliberately laid out to represent a jaguar and Coricancha was located at the tail. In typical Inca symmetry the second most important sacred site in the city - Sacsahuaman - was located at the head. Coricancha was also built where the city's two great rivers of Huantanay and Tullamayo met.
The doors were covered in gold sheets, as were the interiors and exteriors of the various temples and the inner side of the perimeter wall was even said to have been studded with emeralds.
Built using the fine masonry skills for which the Inca have rightly become famous, the massive walls of the complex were built from large stone blocks finely cut and fitted together without mortar. The large curved western wall was particularly noted for its form and elegant, regular masonry. Most walls also leaned slightly inwards as they rose in height, a typical feature of Inca architecture. Many trapezoid doorways and windows allowed access and light to enter the interior spaces and a broad band of gold was added mid-way height around the walls. The interior buildings were of one storey and had thatched roofs. The doors were also covered in gold sheets, as were the interiors and exteriors of the various temples and the inner side of the perimeter wall was even said to have been studded with emeralds.

Temple of the Sun

The most important temple in the precinct was the Temple of the Sun, dedicated to the sun god Inti. The interior and exterior walls of the temple, situated in the northern corner of the complex, were covered in gold - considered the sweat of the sun - which was beaten into sheet plates. There were, reportedly, 700 of these half-metre square sheets, each weighing 2 kg.
Inside the temple, besides golden artefacts relevant to the god's worship, was a gold statue of Inti encrusted with jewels. The statue represented Inti as a small seated boy called Punchao (Day or Midday Sun). From his head and shoulders the sun's rays shone, he wore a royal headband and had snakes and lions coming out of his body. The stomach of the statue was hollow and used to store the ashes of the vital organs of previous Inca rulers. Everyday this statue was brought out into the open air and returned to the shrine each night. Another important representation of the god - a giant mask with zig-zag rays bursting from the head - was hung from the wall of a specially dedicated chamber within the temple.
The garden of the temple was a wonderfully conceived homage to Inti. Just as land - sometimes even entire regions - were dedicated to the god, so too, this garden was constructed in honour of the great sun god Inti. Everything in it was made of gold and silver. A large field of corn and life-size models of shepherds, llamas, jaguars, guinea pigs, monkeys, birds and even butterflies and insects were all crafted in precious metal. And if that wasn't enough to please Inti there were also a large number of gold and silver jars all encrusted with precious stones. All that survives of these wonders are a few golden corn stalks, a convincing, if silent, testimony to the lost treasures of Coricancha.

Other Temples

Five other temples or wasi were placed around the main square courtyard of Coricancha. In order of hierarchy, one temple was dedicated to the creator god Viracocha (more or less equal to Inti), one to Quilla the goddess of the moon, one to Venus or Chaska-Qoylor, one to the god of thunder Illapa, and finally one for Cuichu the rainbow god. Just as Inti's temple was covered in gold, Quilla's temple was covered in silver, a metal thought to be the tears of the moon. Each wasi contained a cult statue of that particular god and precious art and religious objects connected to them.
There was also a dedicated space for the mummified remains of former Inca emperors and their wives, known as mallquis. These were brought out of storage during special ceremonies such as those celebrating the solstices. Offerings were made to these mummies dressed in fine clothes, and the great achievements they had made during their reigns were read out for all to hear. There were also living quarters for priests and priestesses and still other rooms of the complex were used as art and religious treasuries stuffed with artefacts taken from conquered peoples. These may well have been kept in order to guarantee compliance to Inca rule, just as conquered rulers were sometimes held hostage at Cuzco for periods of the year. Yet another interesting feature of the site was an underground channel through which sacred water flowed to the surrounding squares outside the complex.
Other important functions of Coricancha included the taking of astronomical observations, especially of the Milky Way (Mayu). There was, for example, a pair of towers which marked the Summer solstice and sightings were taken from the sacred ushnu stone against man-made and natural landmarks on the horizon to track the sun. Sacrificial victims (capacochas) were also made ready for their great moment in the precinct's courtyard and then marched along the ceque lines to be sacrificed in the various provinces in honour of Inti and his living incarnation, the Inca emperor.

Later History

The rather plain entrance doorway of the complex survives today with its typical double jamb, as do sections of the outer walls and some interior walls. The Christian monastery of Santo Domingo was built on top of the complex, no doubt, in a deliberate attempt to signify that one religion had been replaced by another. Most of the gold from the site was, of course, melted into ingots and taken for the Spanish Crown. The star piece, the golden statue of Inti, was taken to a place of safety when the Spanish arrived but it seems that they did eventually find it thirty years later in 1572 CE but it disappeared without trace, probably melted down like so many other Inca artefacts.
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Source: Ancient History EncyclopediaContent is available under License Creative Commons CC BY-SA 3.0

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