Sunday, August 19, 2012
Kim MacQuarrie (from The Last of the Incas): The capital of the New World's greatest empire was a clean, well-engineered, and obviously well-organized place. If the hallmark of civilization is the intensification of production of food and other goods and the corresponding increase of population and the stratification of society, then nowhere was this more apparent than in Cuzco, which in the Inca's language means navel. It was in this very valley - where the four suyus met and formed their epicenter that the Incas had begun their rise to power. . Now the rest of the empire was connected to it via a webwork of umbilical-like roads - roads that, all combined, stretched for more than 25,000 miles from the Inca capital to the farthest frontiers.
Here in the polyglot navel, the ruling emperor normally lived, and also the lesser lords. It was here, too, that even chiefs from distant provinces had their homes. A sort of gated community for the elites, Cuzco was the royal hub of the empire, a city that was purposely meant to display the ostentation of state power. To serve the elites, peasants - the workhorses of the empire from which all the nation's power derived - visited the capital daily and kept it supplied with every conceivable kind of product the elites might require. Everywhere the Spaniards traded in the city, in fact, they found warehouses stuffed to the ceiling with goods that millions of industrious citizens were constantly churning out, and that were then collected, tabulated by an army of accountants, and stored in massive, state-owned warehouses.
PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL - "Cuzco," Part 5: Much of the gold flowed out of Cuzco, to fill the room at Cajamarca, and the treasures were melted into ingots and shared among the victors and sent in boatloads to the King in Spain - 8 tons in 4 months. ...and after four months when the ransom was paid, Atahualpa saw that the Spaniards were still not leaving, and he began to gather his commanders. When the Conquistadors saw he was of no further use, they took him to the central plaza. There, they tied him to a stake, and threatened to burn him if he did not accept their god. He agreed, whether he understood or not, and they garroted him. Then they burned his body anyway and left the remains for the people to see, and Pizarro installed Atahualpa's seventeen-year-old brother and rival, Manco Inca, as new puppet king, and the year was 1533.