Daily Life in the Inca Empire

Daily Life in the Inca Empire

Daily Life in the Inca Empire

Daily Life in the Inca Empire

Synopsis

Up to now, little has been known about the life of the ordinary Inca during the Inca empire - earlier works describe only the culture of the ruling class. Based on the most recent scholarship, this book reconstructs the daily life not only of the ruling class but of the rest of society, including the conquered peoples, and features contrasting chapters on a day in the life of an Inca family and a day in the life of a conquered family. Over 50 illustrations and photographs of Inca life, artifacts, and archaeological sites bring the social, political, economic, religious, and cultural aspects of Inca civilization to life. Everything from life cycle events to food and drink, dress and ornaments, recreation, religious rituals, the calendar, and the unique Inca form of taxation are fully described and illustrated in the most comprehensive coverage of the Inca way of life to date.

Excerpt

The Incas created the largest empire ever in the western hemisphere prior to the coming of Europeans in the sixteenth century. The Incas conquered much of western South America in less than a century, subjugating a wide variety of cultures ranging from small farming societies to very large, urban ones. How the Incas dominated this area is the subject of this book. However, the Incas were more than conquest armies and military leaders; they included people from many walks of life. Most books about the Incas typically focus on the ruling class and its accomplishments. This book attempts to look beyond the ruling class and give a general description of the way of life of other members of Inca society as well. A particularly distinct contribution of this book is its separate descriptions of the Inca way of life in the capital of Cuzco, and the way of life of their conquered subjects. This distinction allows the reader to understand how the Incas were both unique and typical of other Andean societies of the time. It also allows the reader to see how the Incas were able to manipulate various aspects of their subjects' lives for their own purposes.

In addition, the book includes more of a female perspective than previous books. Because many early sources that are used to describe the Inca way of life were written by men, there may be an unconscious bias toward the activities of men in the literature on the Incas. More recent books, such as Irene Silverblatt's Moon, Sun, and Witches (1987), have attempted to remedy the situation by focusing on women's roles. This book tries to present a more balanced view of male and female contributions to Inca and non-Inca culture.

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