Indians of the Andes: Aymaras and Quechuas

Indians of the Andes: Aymaras and Quechuas

Indians of the Andes: Aymaras and Quechuas

Indians of the Andes: Aymaras and Quechuas

Excerpt

The very name 'Indians' had no other justification than the famous blunder of Columbus. Its continued use had a two- fold disadvantage. It encouraged the tendency to lump all the peoples of the New World together as 'backward' races and favoured the tendency of the Conquistadores to adopt the same attitude of superiority towards the peoples who had built the great civilizations of Mexico and Peru as they took up to the savage tribes of the jungle. And it has encouraged the quite false supposition that all the peoples of the Americas are united by links of conscious kinship.

This book is written about the highland peoples of the Central Andes, who formed the nucleus of that great Inca Empire which extended for two thousand miles along the Pacific coast over the mountains to the fringes of the tropical interior.

When Pizarro's small band of adventurers crashed in upon them, the peoples of the Central Andes were living through a Bronze Age culture and enjoyed a civilization which, although less advanced in technology than Europe, was in human quality equal and perhaps superior to any civilization, except the Chinese, which had been developed in the Old World up to that time.

They had had no cultural contacts with the Old World for twenty millenia and were without the knowledge of iron, glass, the plough, the wheel, writing, money, and those domestic animals and plants, with the exception of cotton, which had achieved the greatest economic importance in the Old World. They had already passed independently through stages of development usually associated in the Old World with the Neolithic Age. Before discovering bronze metallurgy they had used polished knapped flint weapons and tools; they had learnt to domesticate their own plants, in particular maize, quinoa, cañahua, coca, cotton and the potato; they had learnt to domesticate animals, in particular the llama, the alpaca and the guinea pig; they had passed through a stage of megalithic construction; they had discovered how to make pottery and to weave cloth and in both they . . .

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