The Incas wanted to occupy history, and they succeded very well.
When historians today refer to great cultures before the Incas, then these frequently are presented as pre-Inca cultures. The Incas are elevated to be the point of reference. Historically, it is true that these other cultures existed in the time before the Incas, but they could be described by others and more than they existed before the Incas. They had their own identity, contributed with such a lot that later slipped into subsequent cultures. Their religion and society, their technique and aesthetics are so tremendous, so it should be emphasized rather than just being pre-Inca.
The Incas are rightly famous for their empire. But during centuries before, Huaris had established their empire. Peruvian-Italian archaeologist Duccio Bonavia notes that the Incas would never have managed to found their empire had it not been for their Huari forerunners.
But the Incas would not know of these Huaris: Before us, only the barbarians existed, Incas claimed and let others repeat it.
Culture is based on previous culture. The great thing about the Incas was that they so quickly acquired that other cultures mastered – and the horrible thing that they immediately afterwards did everything to eradicate the memory of these older cultures by using myths, such as the one one of the flood.
Specifically, the myth of the Incas should wipe out the collective remembrance of
– that the oldest civilizations existed 12,500 years ago in the coastal area of Paracas and in the highlands of Callejón de Huaylas
– that more than 10,000 years ago, people had painted long-haired animals on cave walls at Junin and Lauricocha
– the Chinchorro culture had emerged in the coastal area at the border between present-day Chile and Peru, consisting of fishermen who developed comprehensive fishing techniques and funeral traditions about 9,000 years ago
– that Americas oldest city, Bandurria, had been built in Peru about 5,000 years ago
– that the Chavin culture originated in northern Peru about 3,000 years ago, and that large-scale temples had been built with granite and limestone that not are found in the area
– that the Paracas culture had developed in southern Peru before the beginning of our era, where the worlds finest fabrics had been woven and embroidered for shrouds
– that the Nazca culture had drawn the today so inexplicable, several hundred feet long figures and lines in the desert and had polished painted ceramics
– that the Pucará culture north of Lake Titicaca had worshipped the puma as fertility god and god of lightning, and had carved god figures of stone
– that the Tiahuanaco culture south of Lake Titicaca had moved several hundred tons heavy stones and had carved images and patterns in stone with a today incredible precision and had worshipped gods which were worshipped in the area long after the very place of the cult had been abandoned
– that the Mochica culture had not only built gigantic pyramids of sun-dried clay but also formed one ceramic portrait vessel after another with individual features
– that the Lima culture fifteen hundred years ago built hundreds of massive pyramids of sun-dried clay in the so-called bookshelf style, where the stones were placed on the narrow edge. The 100 ft tall and very wide pyramids were used as basis for temples, but a few centuries later a civilization reused the pyramids as burial sites. Today, Perus capital Lima spreads where ruins of these shrines had been lying
– that the Huari culture more than a thousand years ago had been the first real empire in Peru with the capital located ten miles east of Ayacucho, and that the empire had included what previously had been the much looser organized Mochica and that they used knot writing system
– that the Chimu culture had formulated special rules of inheritance in the ruling family that led to a growing kingdom, had built Chan Chan, South Americas largest city before the Spaniards conquest, and had refined the goldsmith art
– and that many smaller tribes had existed in the rainforest, where their traces are erased by the forces of nature, but their knowledge of the plants of the forest today inspires the medical industry.
These cultures and their descendants – who had created so much without iron and wheels – were to be exaggerated by the Incas claim that culture had never existed before the Incas! Before us only barbarians! had been the parole of the Incas.
Around the year 800, a prolonged drought probably led to the dissolution of the Huari Empire. Scared people looked around. They had to search new opportunities. Everybody was closest to himself. Terrified. Hungry.
In the following centuries of chaos, which replaced the collapse of large civilizations, everyone tried to survive. One looted neighbors, roamed around, fled – and some wandered to the power void, that had arisen when most had abandoned everything. One of the Huaris probably big cities, Pikillaqta, was south of Cusco. In this citys ruins, Killke, a far smaller civilization – at least less explored – flourished in the years 900-1200.
And then the Incas were moving!
(pp. 40-43 in volume 2, reproduced without notes and illustrations):
THE WORLD ACCORDING TO AZTECS AND INCAS: MYTHS AND STORIES FROM MEXICO AND PERU. Edited, translated, retold and commented by Mikael Witte. Volume 1 + Volume 2
476 pages + 540 pages. Richly illustrated in colors
Published by Selskabet for smukkere Byfornyelse