How the Inkas Governed, Thrived, and Fell without Alphabetic Writing

The last emperor, Sapa Inka Atahualpa / Wikimedia Commons The Sapa Inka (emperor) governed Tahuantinsuyu both efficiently and profitably. What’s more, he did so without alphabetic writing, for the Inkas never invented this. By Dr. Christopher J. Given-Wilson / 11.20.2018 Professor of History University of St. Andrews Between the 1430s and the arrival of the Spanish in 1532,[…]

Atahualpa: Last Emperor of the Inca

16th century portrait of Atahualpa by an unknown artist from the Cusco School / Ethnological Museum of Berlin, Wikimedia Commons After defeating his brother, Atahualpa became very briefly the last Sapa Inca (sovereign emperor) of the Inca Empire (Tawantinsuyu) before the Spanish conquest. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 11.05.2018 Public Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Introduction Atahualpa (/ˌætəˈwɑːlpə/), also Atahuallpa, Atabalipa (in Hispanicized spellings) or Atawallpa (Quechua)[…]

Moche Human Sacrifice: The Role of Funerary and Warrior Sacrifice in Moche Ritual Organization

Despite the extensive study of Moche iconography, the motivations behind the practice remain poorly understood By Christina Taggart The University of Western Ontario Introduction Human sacrifice has been an enduring topic of interest to archaeologists, as it embodies an extreme representation of the exotic ‘other’ and offers considerable insight into past ritual behaviour and ideological organization.[…]

Sacred Politics: Inca Huacas for Political and Social Organization

Acequía del Camino Inca entrada a la Huaca de los Monos / Photo by Johnattan Rupire, Wikimedia Commons By incorporating pre-existing Andean beliefs into the official state ideology, the Inca were able to utilize huacas to aid in their political and social expansion. By Dr. Amy B. Scott / 06.24.2011 Assistant Professor of Bioarchaeology University[…]

Finely-Worked Stone in Incan Architecture

Typical imperial Inca trapezoid windows from the sacred precinct of Coricancha, Cuzco, c. 1438 CE / Photo by Pedro Szekely, Flickr, Creative Commons A spectacular blend of geometrical and natural forms. By Mark Cartwright / 03.12.2014 Historian Introduction Inca architecture includes some of the most finely worked stone structures from any ancient civilization. Inca buildings[…]

The Khipu Code: The Knotty Mystery of the Inkas’ 3D Records

Khipu in the Museo Machu Picchu, Casa Concha, Cusco / Wikimedia Commons Instead of words or pictograms, the Inkas used khipus – knotted string devices – to communicate extraordinarily complex mathematical and narrative information. By Dr. Gary Urton (left) and Manuel Medrano (right) / 06.13.2018 Urton: Dumbarton Oaks Professor of Pre-Columbian Studies Medrano: Research Assistant, AB Candidate in Applied[…]

Stone Vessels of the Inka

Miniature gold llama figurine, c. 1500 C.E., Inka, gold, 6.3 x 1 cm, Peru © Trustees of the British Museum By The British Museum / 03.01.2017 A huge empire From their capital, Cuzco, in the central Peruvian Andes, the Inka created a huge empire reaching over 2,400 miles along the length of the Andes. The[…]

Cusco: Center of the Incan Empire

The modern city of Cusco, overlooking the Plaza de Armas, Peru (photo: Michael and Kristine Senchyshyn, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) By Dr. Sarahh Scher / 08.09.2015 Visiting Lecturer in Art History Salem State University At the breath-taking elevation of 11,200 feet (roughly 3,400 m), the city of Cusco was not just the capital of Tawantinsuyu (“Land of the[…]

Introduction to Andean Cultures

Inka ruins, Písac, Peru (photo: Chensiyuan, CC BY-SA 3.0) By Dr. Sarahh Scher / 10.06.2017 Visiting Lecturer in Art History Salem State University A land of contrasts “The Andes” can refer to the mountain range that stretches along the west coast of South America, but is also used to refer to a broader geographic area that includes the[…]

Introduction to the Inka

Along the Inka road system or Qhapaq Ñan today, Pucará del Aconquija, Argentina (photo: Ministerio de Cultura de la Nación Argentina, CC BY-SA 2.0) By Dr. Sarahh Scher / 09.15.2017 Visiting Lecturer in Art History Salem State University An Empire of Roads—and Cords Map of the Qhapaq Ñan (Inka road system) (map: Manco Capac, CC BY-SA 3.0)[…]

Pumapunku: A Capable and Innovative Culture, not ‘Ancient Aliens’

Photo by Brattarb, Wikimedia Commons Though some claim the stone structure at Pumapunku were alien, archaeologists find no real mysteries there. By Brian Dunning / 08.20.2010 Today we’re going to climb high into the Andes and take a look at an ancient structure that has been cloaked with as much pop-culture mystery as just about[…]