The first place, on my exploration of time, I arrived was in Cuzco the center of the Incan civilization in the year 1505 A. D. Their was much to observe on arrival. The first thing one notices is that Cuzco is in the center of the "four quarters" of the Incan Empire, Tawantinsuyu. The surrounding four quarters or the four "suy us" were to the north Chincasuyu, to the west Cuntisuyu, to the east Anitsuyu, and to the south Chinasuyu the largest quarter. Cuzco sat at the center of these four quarters of the empire and served as the capital.
This capital of the Incan Empire severed as a home to the political center of the Incas. The rich political and social system proved the most interesting to me as I stayed in Cuzco. The political system of the Incans proved rather ridged and complex. At the top of their society is the emperor. The Incan emperor was thought to be the a direct descendant of the sun god, Inti. The entire power of the Incan Empire belonged to its emperor.
His system of checks and balances were that of their rich culture and of course the possibility of his subjects revolting. The emperor had only one wife that was recognized; though he had many concubines and hundreds of illegitimate children. Many of these children held the positions of advisors to the Emperor. The other relatives of the Emperor and other Emperors before him held the other high posts in the government, religion, and military. The last few government officials were the high nobles of the lands conquered by the empire. The practice of nepotism obviously was embraced by this society#.
The division of power in this civilization was a remarkable system. The governors of each quarter, once again, were blood relatives of the Emperor. Each governor had ten district governors who oversaw approximately ten thousand subjects. The governors then had leaders of about one thousand people who reported to them.
Each leader of these small villages then had a foreman who over saw one hundred Incans. This process of division then ends in a series of low officials who would look over at least ten subjects 1. This division the will of the emperor to be passed swiftly to the lowest members of society. The emperor allocated his resources, through this rigid division of the society, to become more economically and politically sound.
The emperor often had small groups uprooted and moved to other sectors of the Incan land. He did this on many occasions for different reasons. The movements often had to do with moving workforce to areas where help was needed for the agriculture or mining systems. The emperor also used his power to move his subjects as a way to prevent political uprisings. When a new area was taken by the Incans he would move large amounts of subjects who spoke the native Quechua to the newly acquired areas. He did this to keep his new lands from rising up against him.
He also would move those areas where political agendas were not like his own to separate corners of his empire to keep the subjects fro gaining attention and support. The division of his people also allowed him to keep very accurate records of his nations people and resources. They had no written language but used a series of strings strangely knotted to keep track. They called these records, made by knotted strings, quipu#. The strings were interpreted by a who could tell what they meant by their colors and frequencies of knots and strings.
These innovations of the Incan culture allowed for more increases of complication in their government. The Incan government established a series of mit'a or taxes that allowed their society certain public works. Incans paid taxes in a most unusual way. The tax was not of money but of labor. Each Incan was required to help work to build a public work such as bridges, roads, or forts#. If an Incan wasn't using their labor towards building they served in the Incan military.
Incan roads were vital to their civilization. These roads built by the tax payers allowed for communication throughout the Incan civilization. Certain subject acted as runners who traveled these roads to send messages to and from the emperors to his advisors and governors. The governors kept small road houses, or t ambos 1, for the runners to stay in in their provinces so that they may rest upon their journeys. The runners were required to travel approximately two hundred fifty miles a day.
The emperor boasted that his roads covered ten thousand miles or more. He was also most proud of the engineering of many of his bridges that were up to three hundred thirty feet in length. He explained how his most stunning bridge built fifty five years before my arrival was across the great gorge in Apurimac. The Incans also had much more skill than simple road builders. The city of Cuzco sat near some of the Incan's greatest archeological feats. Their taxpayers were commissioned to make many temples, forts, and palaces.
In the cities center there was a great monument and temple to the Incan sun god. This temple and its surrounding garden were almost completely covered in gold. Out side of the city laid two of the Incan's greatest forts. To the cities north west laid Machu Picchu a fort laid in between two mountains#. This marvel was perfectly fit between two mountains and over looked the bends entering its capital. The second and skillfully built fortress of Sacsahuaman was directly outside of the city of Cuzco.
These engineering greats of the Incan Empire showed the great utilization of the Incan labor force. Outside of the city of Cuzco there laid a series of farming communities in each quarter. These areas were defined by the or a system of families living together sharing natural resources. Everyone belonged in these which often varied in size.
The had leaders that had several powers over there people. One such power was the choosing of a mate for an Inca male that was not married by 20. These had their own land to sustain them. They worked these lands as a unit, as they did the additional lands that they cultivated for the emperor.
They lived in one room areas that were made of brick or stone that had no windows. They ate very sparingly between their working in the fields and the additional task women were given to produce clothing. They lived lives of hard work and had little time to themselves. A staple of the Incan empire was also how they treated women. The number of wives a man had was an indication of his social class. A farmer was allowed to take only one wife [and yes this practice of treating women as property to determine social class seemed very disgusting to me on my journey].
These lives were directly in contrast to what was saw in the city of Cuzco where many nobles resided#. A noble or the emperor lived quite differently. The emperor as stated before was allowed only one recognized wife though he had many other women whom he called upon regularly. The emperor's wife was to be his sister and a son from that marriage was to be emperor after his death in order to preserve the bloodline of the sun god. Nobles were allowed, in contrast, to have many wives that were recognized. The emperor lived in amongst many gold and silver furnishings, silverware, and even walls.
The nobles and emperors often had many rooms in their homes. They, however, slept on the floor as did all the inhabitants of the Incan Empire. The emperor was not always given these wonderful accoutrements. During childhood an emperor was to be given strict training and lifestyle in order to produce an emperor that was stronger than the others of his empire#. Though, the emperor showed several similarities to the lowest of his society, he had a life of much greater pleasure and grandeur than his subjects. Incan society proved to be rather complex and interesting.
The way in which the society was split to allow for the emperor to have complete control of his subjects was most impressive. Taxation in the form of labor to allow for the great forts, temples, and public works was equally incredible. And, although the practice of how women were treated as property seemed rather disturbing to me, the Incan way of life proved to be very productive. This culture, although more than five hundred years before my known existence, seemed to be very impressive.
It seemed as if Cuzco was a South American Athens, or Sparta.