(View exact match)quipuCATEGORY: artifact; language
DEFINITION: A mnemonic device used by the Inca for keeping accounts and records. It consisted of a number of thick cords of various thicknesses and colors, on which numbers and other data were indicated by knots of different sizes and positions on the strings. Based on a decimal system, the color of the cord, as well as the size, configuration and placement of each knot, had a special meaning. So complex was the system that a special class of workers, quipu-camayoq (quipucamoyac), kept the imperial records on quipu. The Incas did not have writing, but quipus could also be used as aids in recording historical or liturgical information accumulated by government. A modified form is still used by some Andean herdsmen.
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DEFINITION: South American Indians who, at the time of the Spanish conquest in 1532, ruled an empire that extended along the Pacific coast and Andean highlands from the northern border of modern Ecuador to the Maule River in central Chile. The Inca established their capital at Cuzco (Peru) in the 12th century. They began their conquests in the early 15th century and within 100 years had gained control of an Andean population of about 12,000,000 people. These Quechua-speaking tribes' origins are uncertain. Their vast empire had a centralized organization and at its head was the ruler, 'Son of the Sun', worshipped as a god in his own lifetime. As a divine king he was above the law, and as a despotic ruler he was very much the political head of the state. Administration was in the hands of officials drawn from the Inca nobility and from the chiefs of conquered tribes. An efficient road system, along which relays of messengers could travel 250 km in a day, ensured that Cuzco was kept informed of developments all over the empire. These same roads allowed Inca forces to be quickly moved into any province which showed signs of rebellion. This centralization was both the strength and the weakness of the Inca state. The unifying force was the ruler in person, and the death of Huayna Capac precipitated a crisis. Civil war broke out when two of his sons, Huascar and Atahuallpa, disputed the succession. Atahuallpa won the war, but before he could consolidate his position he was seized and murdered by Francisco Pizarro's Spaniards in 1532. Without a leader the Inca system could not function. Most of the empire was quickly brought under Spanish control, but an independent Inca group held out in the Urubamba valley until 1572. Viracocha Inca was the creator, culture hero, and supreme deity of the Inca, but the religion embraced a pantheon of gods of nature. The most actively worshipped were the sun and, by extension, the emperor, who was considered the son of the sun. The Temple of the Sun, built at the pre-Incan ceremonial center of Pachacamac suggests some incorporation of earlier religions. Archaeologically, the Inca culture is characterized by fine quality stone masonry, agricultural terraces, mass-produced and standardized pottery forms (aryballus), and metal objects. The considerable architectural skill of the Inca is reflected in Cyclopean masonry, although many buildings were constructed using rectangular dressed stone blocks as well as adobe. The basic dwelling-unit was a cluster of single rooms arranged around a rectangular courtyard and was most often enclosed by a wall. Writing was unknown, but the quipu was used for keeping records. Agriculture was based on plant foods, especially potato, manioc, quinoa, and maize. Domesticated animals included dog, llama, cava (guinea pig), and alpaca. Fine textiles were woven using a simple backstrap loom. The civilization was the largest and most powerful political unit in all the prehistoric America. It has been argued that the whole of Inca achievement relied heavily on a variety of political, societal and religious infrastructures already in place before their ascendancy.MocheSYNONYMS OR RELATED TERMS: Mochica
DEFINITION: The major culture of the northern coast of Peru during the Early Intermediate Period. It originated in the Moche and Chicama Valleys and later spread by conquest as far south as the Santa and Nepeña Rivers. The culture developed around the start of the Christian era and lasted until c 700 AD. Dominant during the Early Intermediate Period (c 400 BC-600 AD), it is best known for its irrigation works, its massive adobe temple-platforms, and for its pottery. Especially famous are the modeled vessels and portrait head vases, and the jars, often with stirrup spouts, painted in reddish brown with scenes of religion, war, and everyday life. The pottery sequence has five phases which are identified by the details of the spout formation on the stirrup-necked bottles and it is used for relative dating of the sites (c 300-700 AD). The Moche culture was the major contributor to the subsequent Chimú culture of the north coast. Huge structures at the ceremonial center include a large, terraced, truncated pyramid, Huaca del Sol, and the smaller Huaca de la Luna, on top of which is a series of courtyards and rooms, some with wall paintings. Huaca del Sol was perhaps the largest single construction of the prehistoric Andean region. Grave goods in gold, silver and copper display a fairly advanced metalworking technology. Archaeologists excavated a site called Huaca Rajada and found the elaborate, jewelry-filled tomb of a Moche warrior-priest. Several more burial chambers containing the remains of Moche royalty have been excavated, all dating from about 300 AD, whose finds greatly aided the understanding of Moche society, religion, and culture. Incised lines on lima beans have recently been interpreted as a form of nonverbal communication similar in concept to the quipu. Developing out of Cupisnique, Gallinazo and Salinar, Moche survived into the Middle Horizon but appears ultimately to have been overtaken by the Huari culture. In the last phase (Moche V), the southern part of the Moche territory was abandoned and a new capital established in the north, at Pampa Grande.