Tag Archives | incas

The Incan Empire: Wealth Without Money

picchuFor students of economics and ancient civilizations alike, the strange economy of the Incan Empire is fascinating. Annalee Newitz writes for io9:

In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the Inca Empire was the largest South America had ever known. Rich in foodstuffs, textiles, gold, and coca, the Inca were masters of city building but nevertheless had no money. In fact, they had no marketplaces at all.

Centered in Peru, Inca territory stretched across the Andes’ mountain tops and down to the shoreline, incorporating lands from today’s Colombia, Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina and Peru – all connected by a vast highway system whose complexity rivaled any in the Old World. The Inca Empire may be the only advanced civilization in history to have no class of traders, and no commerce of any kind within its boundaries. How did they do it?

Many aspects of Incan life remain mysterious, in part because our accounts of Incan life come from the Spanish invaders who effectively wiped them out.

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Mummy Analysis Reveals Drug Use By Sacrificed Inca Children

sacrificeFor the Incas, coca and alcohol served simultaneously as keys to the sacred and tools of coercion and control, National Geographic fascinatingly reports:

The bodies of 13-year-old Llullaillaco Maiden and her younger companions Llullaillaco Boy and Lightning Girl (three Inca mummies found near the lofty summit of Volcán Llullaillaco in Argentina) have revealed that mind-altering substances played a part in their deaths and during the year-long series of ceremonial processes that prepared them for their final hours.

Under biochemical analysis, the Maiden’s hair yielded a record of what she ate and drank during the last two years of her life. This evidence seems to support historical accounts of a few selected children taking part in a year of sacred ceremonies—marked in their hair by changes in food, coca, and alcohol consumption—that would ultimately lead to their sacrifice.

Her surging consumption of both coca and alcohol, which were then controlled substances not available for everyday use, show she appears to have been selected for sacrifice a year before her actual death: “We suspect the Maiden was one of the acllas, or chosen women, selected around the time of puberty to live away from her familiar society under the guidance of priestesses.”

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Secret Door Discovered At Center Of Machu Picchu

The secret portal has yet to be unsealed, but an electromagnetic survey suggests it houses treasure chambers filled with gold. Who’s going to try to get it and end up with an Incan curse? Heritage Daily reports:

This discovery was made possible thanks to a French engineer, David Crespy, who in 2010 noticed the presence of a strange “shelter” located in the heart of the city, at the bottom of one of the main buildings. For him, there was no doubt about it, he was looking at a “door”, an entrance sealed by the Incas.

It is indeed an entrance, blocked by the Incas at an undetermined moment of history. In April 2012, an electromagnetic survey not only confirmed the presence of an underground room, but several. Just behind the famous entrance, a staircase was also discovered. The two main paths seem to lead to specific chambers. [The electromagnetic survey also revealed] a large quantity of gold and silver.

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