Inca Empire (Magill’s Guide to Military History)
Article abstract: Military significance: In less than a century (1438-1525), Inca armies created an empire 2,000 miles in length with an area of more than 300,000 square miles and possibly 13 million inhabitants—physically the largest of the indigenous urban cultures in the Western Hemisphere.
After the Wari Empire collapsed in the tenth century, the Incas were one of hundreds of ethnic groups moving about the coastal river valleys and mountain basins of the Andes looking for suitable farmland. From Pacaritambo near Lake Titicaca, the Incas migrated north into the rich Cuzco valley by the twelfth century. They prospered there, and as they grew, they competed with other groups for arable land and access to water.
In 1438, the Incas defended themselves against an attack by the nearby state of Chanca. After destroying the Chanca army, the Incas dispersed the three major Chanca clans to prevent further difficulties. Neighboring chiefdoms and kingdoms, fearing for their own independence, formed alliances with the victorious Inca leader Pachacuti. In a series of reciprocal agreements, Pachacuti built a large, multiethnic army and launched a series of wars that unified the peoples of the central highlands from the southern shores of Lake Titicaca to the northern shores of Lake Junín. The Incas called this empire Tahuantinsuyo (the four quarters), meaning the center of the world.
Pachacuti’s successors, Topa Inca...
(The entire section is 727 words.)
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Inca Empire (Encyclopedia of Food & Culture)
INCA EMPIRE. The imperial Inca state was built upon thousands of years of cultural history and diverse elaborate statecraft of the Andean region of western South America, beginning in the thirteenth century C.E. Though the empire was short-lived (it was conquered by Spain in the sixteenth century), the Inca of the Cuzco valley brought together hundreds of groups, including speakers of many mutually exclusive languages from the dry western South American coasts to the verdant Amazonian foothills, from warm and moist valleys of modern Columbia to the dry Atacama Desert of Chile and the dry mountains of northwestern Argentina. They conquered this territory in less than sixty years. Among their many tools for statecraft were food production, storage, and feasting. When they conquered they divided the lands for the state, for the sun (the focus of their religion), and for local use. In this way the conquered people had to work all of the land, though most of the produce was for the Inca rulers; produce was taken to and stored in highly regularized storage buildings called qolqa placed at administrative centers (tambo) throughout the empire. Food had great cultural value and carried the histories of the consumers in every meal. The recipe and type of plant variety used identified a person's background, much as clothing did. The Inca encouraged these differences, to keep account of the groups that they codified in a hierarchical record-keeping organization, with the local leaders reporting to Inca administrators.
All social events were marked with food and gift exchanges. These feasting activities occurred at the conquest of new peoples, but also at the renewal of group allegiances and all religious ceremonies. John Rowe notes that the value of crops was so great that at the start of planting season, between September and November, when the rains began, the Sapa Inca (king) himself would join the religious assembly to make the first hole in the ground for maize (corn) planting in a sacred field of the religious authorities. While men had to make the holes in the ground, women had to place the seed in the earth. Singing accompanied this activity, recounting major military victories. After this planting was begun, beer was provided to all workers. The crops were tended throughout the rainy season, to keep animals from eating them, until harvest, which began around May when the rains tapered off. In the highlands, harvest was accompanied by large cooked meals, primarily of potatoes, in the fields, to repay helpers.
When the Inca arrived on the borders of a group they wanted to conquer, they would send emissaries ahead to ask if the group wanted to join the Inca state or would rather fight. If the group chose to join and not fight, a date would be set for a ceremony. On that date, the Inca military leaders would arrive in the territory bearing gifts of fine clothing, elaborate imperial ceramics, and jewelry, for the new local leaders to take on the emblems of the Inca state. If the local leaders accepted these gifts and their takeover, there would be a feast of
Most of the populace typically ate something quite different. There were two main meals a day. The first was a thick soup eaten out of bowls in the midmorning after early tending of herds. It was made of potatoes, quinoa, or maize in the highlands, depending on the elevation of the farmer, and of lima beans or maize on the coast. The highland evening meal at dusk was consumed after a day in the fields and usually was solid food consisting of beans or boiled potatoes with a spicy sauce of chili peppers and wild herbs, eaten out of a common cooking jar with wooden spoons or on woven cloth. Meat was sometimes included, but it was usually only reserved for feast days. This would often be llamas or alpacas (camelids) in the higher areas, or guinea pigs (cuyes), and less often wild ducks, rabbits, and other small animals caught in the fields. Along the coast, fish, shellfish, and also seaweed would have been a common soup base as well as an addition to the evening meal, again spiced with chili peppers and wild herbs.
See also Beer: From Late Egyptian Times to the Nineteenth Century; Central America; Maize; Mexico; Mexico and Central America, Pre-Columbian; South America.
Bray, Tamara. "To Dine Splendidly." Paper presented at "The Culinary Equipment of Early States: The Political Dimensions of State Pottery Symposium" at the 65th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Philadelphia, 2000.
Rowe, John Howland. "Inca Culture at the Time of the Spanish Conquest." In Handbook of the South American Indians, edited by Julian H. Steward. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1946959.
Christine A. Hastorf