History of the Inca Empire

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  2. April 30, 2013 3:54 pm

History of the Inca Empire

Inca Empire and a Clash of Values

The Inca empire thrived in South America along the Pacific Ocean and inland to the Andes mountains and Amazon forest. The territory ranged 2,500 miles from Columbia to Chile. The empire began around 1438 and expanded its territory, wealth and influence. It was the largest nation on earth, and it was conquered by the Spanish by 1542.

Civilizations use different standards to measure wealth. The 10 million Inca subjects worked in agriculture, constructed irrigation systems, built temples, built fortresses and constructed an excellent road system. They were paid with food and clothing.

Gold and silver are two pliable and shiny metals. The Inca made artwork using the metals. When an Inca ruler died, it was the custom to bury personal items along with the deceased. Gold and silver were placed in many tombs.

European civilizations value gold and silver as wealth. Spain sponsored expeditions to locate and claim new territories and wealth. Spanish explorers came to the New World, heard of the Incan wealth and decided to take it. They arranged a meeting with the Inca ruler, kidnapped him and demanded ransom for his return. After a ransom of over $50 million was paid, measured by today’s calculations, the ruler was killed and the Spaniards invaded the capital city, Cuzco.

The Spaniards went on to destroy and plunder the empire. They confiscated the gold, silver and gems. The Incan artifacts were exquisite works of art. Few exist today, because the items were melted for the metal content.

The Spaniards also transmitted smallpox and other diseases to native cultures. The Incans had no immunity to the diseases, and two-thirds of the people died.

The destruction and disease inflicted by the Spaniards decimated the Inca empire. Spanish customs, language and spiritual worship replaced the native way of life.

The Inca empire continues to fascinate the imagination.

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