The Incas of Macchupicchu
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My name is James Arnold and I am a senior at The Citadel. I recently wrote this paper as an Anthropology project about the Incas. The information fot this paper comes from a video that we watched in class. this is a very nformative paper about the aspects of teh Inca civilization such as their road network and the pottery found centuries after their demise.
The Incas
The Inca civilization is an ancient civilization that began eight thousand feet up in the Andes Mountains of Peru with a city called Machu Picchu. The Yale professor Hiram Bingham first discovered the remains of the civilization in 1911. The site had previously gone undetected by Spanish explorers until Bingham's discovery. The civilization is believed to have started from a few colonies, but then spread almost the entire western coast of South America, primarily high along the Andes Mountain Range. Following its discovery, many aspects of its nature were studied. Some areas of study were the roads and road network, its regional centers, pottery, architecture, and the homes and their organization. The first aspect that will be discussed is the roads and the road network.
The roads and the road network are an important area to study because they were unlike any other roads built during their time. The roads are longer than those of the Romans, paved in some areas while rugged and cut into Sierras, and covered more than eleven thousand miles. They were built for foot transportation because they tend to ascend mountains rapidly instead of spiraling them, which also indicates the lack of vehicle use by the civilization. The roads connected every village and town and were kept exceptionally clean as if they were constantly swept. All the houses, temples, and buildings were found along the road network. The road network also contained a series of Inca bridges. These bridges were made of intertwined fibers that were constantly rebuilt by the Inca work force called mita. The mita was a system of rotating labor in which everyone in the civilization performed some sort of labor for the community. The Incas used the road network to travel from village to village whether it was for daily work or to carry messages. The message relay system that they used was extremely efficient. It consisted of runners who ran the road network like telephone signals from town to town transmitting messages. A message could be carried from one end of the civilization to the other end in less than seven days. That is the distance from Northern Peru to the Southern Andean Mountains. Some of the many villages are still around today, but others are reduced to pottery remains. Pottery is important because it gives researchers a glimpse of how the Inca culture functioned.
Pottery is linked to almost all the research methods used today to decipher the Inca civilization. Pottery is used to determine the organization of the villages and is used to determine what the Incas did with conquered tribes. A group of researchers used a computer-based program to determine the organization of Quantico Pampa. The pieces of pottery were collected from various parts of the city and then carefully mapped. The pieces were then washed and examined to find out what vessel they were a part of. The researchers used the information about the vessels as a way to determine the use of each zone of the city. For example, Zone two of Quantico Pampa was used as a brewery for chicha, the Inca ceremonial drink. Chicha is a beer made from maize. The researchers arrived at this conclusion after finding many pieces of storage vessels similar to clay jars. Zone eight was used for storage of maize because many pieces of storage vessels were found in this region. Until this computer-based method of categorizing pottery, there was a building in the northern part of Quantico Pampa that was believed to be a bureaucratic center. Later evidence from lots of broken pottery suggested that the building be a place of hospitality, similar to a modern day bar where chicha drinking occurred. Pottery research was also important in deciphering the puzzle of what the Incas did with their war captives. Studies were conducted on pottery made by the groups before and after the Inca invasions. Astonishingly, the captured groups were seen to have survived after their conquest in the same culture as the Incas. This was proven at a site called the Fort on the Cusichaca River. Here, the pottery of the conquered people was seen to have gradually changed from their style to the Inca style to symbolize that the conquered villages were not killed if they cooperated.
The pottery collecting expedition also used some advanced technology besides the simple washing and looking. The pottery was collected and then sorted by a bubbling process that allowed the researchers to look at smaller pieces of the Inca puzzle. The fine particles were collected by hand or tools in the form of soil. The soil was then dumped into a vat of water that was forced to bubble from an air compressor. The researchers knew that the lighter carbon compounds would float at the top of the mixture and so the mixture was allowed to bubble for thirty seconds. After thirty seconds the material that had floated to the top was collected in a screen and then analyzed under a microscope. This method allowed the researchers to look at the smaller pieces of the civilization to better determine the organization of the civilizations and the fate of the conquered tribes that the Incas encountered during their conquest of the Andes Mountains.
The next area of research was the arrangement of the Inca homes and the reason for their organization. The homes of the Inca civilization were arranged in a manner that was beneficial to the entire civilization. The homes were built according to the places where they were placed. For example homes closer to the ocean were build with protective barriers from the ocean, while homes built at higher altitudes were built more closed in to promote heat retention for the frigid conditions. They were placed anywhere up the Andes Mountains ranging from the ocean to around eight thousand feet. Homes near the ocean provided seafood for the civilization. Other crops such as maize and beans were grown at different elevations to get various forms and livestock such as guinea pigs and ducks were raised as a food source at different elevations. In this way, the Incas used the mountains to their advantage. Outside the specifically placed homes, on the road network, were the regional centers of the civilization.
These regional centers, also called administrative cities, were built about every one hundred miles along the road network. Their function was to store food and tools. Record keepers called chiefs were in all of these administrative cities and their function was to determine how much taxes a person had to work off in relation to the amount of food and tools that they donated for storage. The chiefs used a complex system of knots called kipu to keep their mathematical records of labor taxes and food and tool storage. These storage houses had great importance to the Inca army. They army used the supplies in the storage houses when their supplies ran low, but unlike a typical civilization where the army is held at a higher status than the rest of the civilization, the army replenished the food supply during years of abundance. This attribute allowed the civilization to have a constant food source during the less productive years. How did the food remain in storage for long periods of time without spoiling? The Incas used their terrain to their advantage. They experienced rather frigid nights and nearly tropical days. They simply froze their meats and vegetables at night and them thawed and dried them in the day over a period of time to freeze dry their food. This was a primitive method, but the method was rather effective and efficient.
The most fascinating aspect about the Incas is their architecture. Their buildings all had characteristics that were shared only by the Inca civilization. One of which was the trapezoidal door. All buildings had a trapezoidal door. Those most prevalent are the doors to the Temple of the Sun in Machu Picchu. This temple was believed to be where the sun rose and set each day and consisted of a large sundial that was used as a time-keeping method. The temple also had gold covered walls and encompassed no cement in its building. The stones that formed its walls were cut out using stones in a way that they fit so closely together that a coin could not be placed between them. The Incas did not use cement or mortar and so each stone was cut to perfection so that they fit together like a puzzle. All of the houses and buildings were built this way. There is a mystery that goes with this method though. Researchers have found some stones that are too large for a human to carry. How did the Incas move these large stones to heights well above ten feet high without the use of animals? The Incas did not use animals for labor. To this day no researcher is positive of what method they used. This is similar to the unknown method that the Egyptians used to move the large stones to make the Pyramids. Research continues with this civilization in an effort to completely understand the structure of the civilization and to determine what caused the productive civilization to cease from existence. Consequently, the mission of deciphering the Inca civilization continues.

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