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How the Inca adapted and prospered in their environment

Adapting to the environment is one of the biggest factors of a successful culture. A culture can adapt to the environment or can fail and disappear without a trace. One such culture that did not fail but adapted was the Inca. This great culture in South America had a very advanced agricultural system, a very big social and economical society, and a very good understanding of government. The Inca’s were a thriving society over a wide variety of climates and types of land.The center of the Inca economy and society was agriculture. The geography of the Inca kingdom consisted of high mountains, desert, and even a vast rainforests. However, most of the population lived in the mountains. One challenge the Inca had to face living in the mountains was altitude. Thin air, steep mountains and freezing nights of the high reaching Andes was challenging. Another part of the kingdom was at a lower elevation which supplied land for farming. The Inca conquered these challenging environments by zoning three different areas for raising different crops and livestock. Zone 1 (below 5,000 ft) also called Yunga was for fruit trees which included avocado and limes.Zone 2 (between 5,000 – 10,000 ft) called Quechua is where the Inca grew food like corn, potatoes, and peanuts. Zone 3 the highest elevation was was where the Inca raised llamas and alpacas. They used these animals for wool, food, and as a means for transportation. Within the three zones elevations the fields or areas were divided into thirds. (1/3 for the gods, 1/3 for nobles and 1/3 for the farmers). They fertilized their soil with guano, which is from bat droppings. The size of the plot for each family depended on how many people were in the family.In this part of the world there are seasons for growing and harvest. So the food the Inca’s produced food was stored and sorted using a highly developed system. The Inca’s used certain instruments called “khipus” to keep track of how much food was in each of the storerooms. Many other cultures like the Chinese have done this with different methods before. Inca’s counters were so beautiful with woodened circles with bright colored strings. Examples of these “khipus” were found in many ruins of the Inca kingdom.The tools the Inca’s used for building and farming came from their environment. For farming they used stone hammers, sharp rocks used for slicing, and plow with bronze tips used for plowing fields for crops. Bronze was made from melting minerals found in the region. They used stone to build advanced structures such as temples, and palaces which brought together the different social advancements for their time period. An example of adaptation made for their environment was the structure of their houses. Their houses had no windows, to keep in the heat and one door. At the top of the roof they had a circle space where smoke came out of when they had a fire. This was also found in the later Native American homes. The Inca house was made of stone or brick and had a roof made of Ichu. Ichu is coarse grass that sheds rain easily. The used the earth as a floor and slept on wool blankets made from alpacas to sleep. One thing that demonstrates the advancement of the Inca’s was that the engineering of building so advanced was that they did not use mortar. They carved the bricks so exactly that they didn’t have to use mortar, yet their buildings were still strong. Many of the Inca’s buildings can still be visited today.Central to the society was the King’s place high in the mountains. The palace was very grand and had lots of gold. Gold was a resource mined from the rugged mountain environment. In the palace there were many rooms for the Inca to entertain. Large feasts were prepared to celebrate many events including weddings. Marriage was very important for the Inca just like the modern world. The ceremony consisted of dancing, feasting, and drinking. Being single was not an option, all men and women had to marry. The Inca’s lived in a kinship of fewer then 100 members called an Ayllu. Women were expected to have children. All children were prized and not one sex was more important than the other like in some cultures. However, just like today in many parts of the world deformed children were outcast. Folk tales were often used to try to explain some environmental or human condition. The folk tale that was passed by the Inca’s told that if the child was deformed then one of the parents was unfaithful to the other.The Inca government had a hierarchy of kings, and nobles and was also a force to be reckoned with. The government was lead by the Sapa Inca who was also advised by the nobles. The Sapa Inca lived with his family inside the palace The Sapa Inca was married to his sister or cousin who was then known as the Coya. She was not recognized as equal status to him even though she was married to the Sapa Inca. The next office down was the Ilamactu. The Ilamactu was something like an enforcement officer. Next were the farmers, who even though low on the pyramid of society were some of the most important people.One of the greatest emperors was Pacacuti. He is known for creating a code of laws for the Inca to follow and standardizing the Incan calendar to be 12 months and 30 days.During his reign his son helped him conquest land in very bad battles with a tribe in Brazil. The Inca continued to advance their empire by conquering land and by setting up roads to connect parts of the empire. They built bridges to cross various obstacles like rivers and mountains, and created fortresses to defend their lands against invasion.The Inca were an advanced society, but so were the Spanish, the people who conquered them. The fall of the Inca Empire was not due to the environment. This culture had made unique adaptations to their difficult environment and had become a very rich and great society.

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