They were built to last and to withstand the extreme natural forces of wind, floods, ice, and drought.
This central nervous system of Inca transport and communication rivaled that of Rome. A high road crossed the higher regions of the Cordillera from north to south and another lower north-south road crossed the coastal plains. Shorter crossroads linked the two main highways together in several places.
The terrain, according to Ciezo de Leon, an early chronicler of Inca culture, was formidable. The road system ran through deep valleys and over mountains, through piles of snow, quagmires, living rock, along turbulent rivers; in some places it ran smooth and paved, carefully laid out; in others over sierras, cut through the rock, with walls skirting the rivers, and steps and rests through the snow; everywhere it was clean swept and kept free of rubbish, with lodgings, storehouses, temples to the sun, and posts along the way.
The Incas did not discover the wheel, so all travel was done on foot. To help travelers on their way, rest houses were built every few kilometers. In these rest houses, they could spend a night, cook a meal and feed their llamas.
Their bridges were the only way to cross rivers on foot. If only one of their hundreds of bridges was damaged, a major road could not fully function; every time one broke, the locals would repair it as quickly as possible.
Inca society was made up of ayllus, which were clans of families who lived and worked together. Each allyu was supervised by a curaca or chief. Families lived in thatched-roof houses built of stone and mud. Furnishings were unkown with families sitting and sleeping on the floor. Potatoes were a basic Inca food. The Imperial Incas clothed themselves in garments made from Alpaca and many of their religious ceremonies involved the animal. They wore sandals on their feet.
In Inca social structure, the ruler, Sapa Inca, and his wives, the Coyas, had supreme control over the empire. The High Priest and the Army Commander in Chief were next. Then came the Four Apus, the regional army commanders. Next were temple priests, architects, administrators and army generals. Next were artisans, musicians, army captains and the quipucamayoc, the Incan accountants. At the bottom were sorcerers, farmers, herding families and conscripts.
Inca society continued uninterrupted in this way for hundreds of years. The appearance of light-skinned strangers during the rule of Atahuallpa, however, was to forever change things for the Inca. Deadly plague would soon sweep through the Inca empire. Those that survived had to face the swords and cannons of the invading Spanish. After leading the Spanish to more gold than they had ever before seen, even Lord Atahuallpa was strangled by his Spanish captors.
Every style of hand-weaving was practiced by the Incas. They used this instead of writing in some cases. They also made very artistic pottery.
Music was part of ceremony. Incas knew how to smelt and cast metals so they made many different types of instruments such as trumpets and bells out of materials such as brass or stone.
At its peak, Ican society had more than six million people. As the tribe expanded and conquered other tribes, like the Paracas, the Incans began to consolidate their empire by integrating not only the ruling classes of each conquered tribe but also developing a universal language, calling it Quechua (pronounced KECH-WUN).
This ubiquitous integration encompassed the histories, myths and legends of each subject tribe; stories being intentionally combined, adopted or obliterated, or just accidentally confused. This practice was characteristic of the Incans quest for organization and structure. The Amautas, a special class of wise men who perpetuated traditions of the people, history and legend, redefined myths where and when necessary to establish miracles of faith or precedent or sanctions.
LANGUAGE – RELIGION
The Incan language was based on nature. All of the elements of which they depended, and even some they didn’t were give a divine character. They believed that all deities were created by an ever-lasting, invisible, and all-powerful god named Wiraqocha, or Sun god. The King Incan was seen as Sapan Intiq Churin, or the Only Son of the Sun.
The Inca were a deeply religious people. They feared that evil would befall at any time. Sorcerors held high positions in society as protectors from the spirits. They also believed in reincarnation, saving their nail clippings, hair cuttings and teeth in case the returning spirit needed them.
The religious and societal center of Inca life was contained in the middle of the sprawling fortress known as Sacsahuaman. Here was located Cuzco, ‘The Naval of the World’ [we call it the Solar Plexus] – the home of the Inca Lord and site of the sacred Temple of the Sun. At such a place the immense wealth of the Inca was clearly evident with gold and silver decorating every edifice. The secret of Inca wealth was the mita. This was a labor program imposed upon every Inca by the Inca ruler. Since it only took about 65 days a year for a family to farm for its own needs, the rest of the time was devoted to working on Temple-owned fields, building bridges, roads, temples, and terraces, or extracting gold and silver from the mines. The work was controlled through chiefs of thousands, hundreds and tens.
The Incas worshipped the Earth goddess Pachamama and the sun god, the Inti. The Inca sovereign, lord of the Tahuantinsuyo, the Inca empire, was held to be sacred and to be the descendant of the sun god. Thus, the legend of the origin of the Incas tells how the sun god sent his children Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo (and in another version the four Ayar brothers and their wives) to found Cuzco, the sacred city and capital of the Inca empire.
Inti Raymi, the feast of the sun The “Inti Raymi” or “Sun Festivity” was the biggest, most important, spectacular and magnificent festivity carried out in Inca times. It was aimed to worship the “Apu Inti” (Sun God).