Recognized as one of the greatest and largest Pre-Columbian civilizations in America, the Inca Empire arose in the highlands of Peru in the early 13th century. Although its capital was located in the city of Cuzco, rocky and sometimes inaccessible southeastern region of Peru, it domains incorporated large portions of South America, almost 2 million square kilometers,including the majority of Peru, Ecuador, south of Colombia, west and south central Bolivia, the northern part of Chile and north eastern Argentina.
The Inca Empire was very well structured in all senses. Politically, it had a very modern and organized government which was headed by the main Inca, also referred to as Sapa Inca, who reigned all over its territory and people. His power was absolute andhe was believed to be the direct descendant of the Gods. In order to reign over such a vast territory, the Inca divided the Empire into four different territories, or “suyos”; Cinchaysuyo to the north, Collasuyo to the south, Antisuyo to the east and Contisuyo to the west. Each Suyo was governed by an “Apo”, who was directly appointed by the Inca and represented his authority and power over theland. The Apos were right below the Inca in political hierarchy and they governed over the provinces and the people. These Suyos, or states, were at the same time divided into smaller provinces, and the provinces divided into smaller towns, and the smaller towns into even smaller communities. All of these were governed by “Curacas”, or local authorities. The Curacas played a very important rolewithin the government, they were the local authorities keeping the peace throughout the land and most important, they were in charge of the controlling an enforcing the “Mita”.
The Mita system was probably one of the greatest inventions of the Inca government. It was comparable to a mandatory community service where people were drafted to work for periods of 65 continuous days per year. This labor wasfree of cost for the government, but the government took care of the family of the person whose turn was to join the Mita. During Mita time, people were assigned the construction of roads, bridges, palaces, mines, forts, fields for agriculture and much more. Everything that needed to get built by the government for the benefit of the community and the Empire was done through the Mita.
Inmatters of religion, the Inca was a polytheist society. The Inca built temples dedicated to their Gods adorations and special festivities to honor them were celebrated throughout the Empire year round. The Inca believed in “Viracocha”, who was the great creator of all living things, the sun, the moon and also the stars. Inca believed that “Inti”, or God Sun, was the most important servant of Viracochaand the father of the Inca Emperor. The “Inti Raymi” festival, probably the most important Inca festivity of all times, was held in his honor. The moon or Mama Quilla was the Sun’s wife. The Pachamama or Mother Earth was Viracocha’s wife, and people used to give her offerings an animal sacrifices during festivities in order to improve agricultural seasons. Qochamama was the goddess of the sea.Schamama was the Mother Forrest, Yakumama was the Mother Water, Kon was the God of rain and wind, and Catequil the God of thunder and lighting, among others.
The Inca also believed in two mythological beings that were sent to earth in order to found the Inca Empire; Manco Capac and Mama Occlo. According to legend, these two deities, son and daughter from Inti, or God Sun, emerged from the waters ofthe Titicaca Lake in Puno with the mission of finding the right place to found the capital of what was about to become the Great Inca Empire. Manco Capac and Mama Occlo made their way into Cuzco and decided to establish the capital there. Manco Capac became the first Inca King and his principal assignment was to teach people how to grow plants, make weapons, work together, and worship Gods;...