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The Incas

The Incas

Nigel Davies
Copyright Date: 1995
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    The Incas
    Book Description:

    The Inca Empire's immense territory spanned more than 2,000 miles - from Ecuador to Chile - at the time of the Spanish invasion, yet Inca culture remains largely a mystery. The Incas did not leave pictorial codices and documents in their native language as the Maya and Aztec did and they narrated to Spanish chroniclers just a few of the multiple alternative histories maintained by descendants of various rulers. In this classic work, Nigel Davies offers a clear view into Inca political history, economy, governance, religion, art, architecture, and daily life. The Incas has become a classic in its many years in print; readers and scholars interested in ancient American cultures will relish this paperback edition.

    eISBN: 978-1-60732-126-2
    Subjects: Sociology, Archaeology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. Maps
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. Prologue
    (pp. ix-xii)

    Over the past two decades, in addition to my various works on Aztecs, Toltecs, and other Mesoamericans, I have also written on more general topics, such as human sacrifice throughout the Americas, as well as on the enigmatic problem of possible contacts between the Old World and the New before the voyages of Columbus. During this period, I made fairly prolonged visits to Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia, journeys that inspired a growing interest in the achievements of the Andean peoples, in particular those of the all-conquering Incas.

    In this book I prefer to spare the reader a surfeit of those...

  5. CHAPTER 1 In Search of the Past
    (pp. 1-15)

    Sixteenth- and seventeenth-century writing on the Incas was mainly the preserve of Spanish chroniclers. In the absence of abundant data in the native Quechua, much of our knowledge of the Inca past derives from these texts; though their opinions may differ, they all tend to describe native society from a Spanish viewpoint.

    As early as the eighteenth century, reports of a boundless realm centered in the High Andes and endowed with fabulous riches began to attract the attention of a wider audience. Voltaire chose Lima as the setting of his Alzire, an extremely successful play. His most famous work, Candide,...

  6. CHAPTER 2 The First of the Incas
    (pp. 16-39)

    Before examining the diverse accounts of the foundation, or occupation, of Cuzco by the Incas, one must first ask: What do we know of their more remote origins? What were their creation myths, and how do these compare with those of other Andean peoples? In more precise terms, did such myths come from the coast, as Demarest suggests, or rather, as Rowe believes, from the Aymara legends of the Lake Titicaca region?

    Mircea Eliade aptly describes myth as a form of sacred history in which the actors in the drama are not men but supernatural beings. Myth is thus related...

  7. CHAPTER 3 The Era of Pachacutec
    (pp. 40-63)

    The reigns of Viracocha, successor to Yahuar Huaca, and of Viracocha’s heir, most commonly known as Pachacutec, mark the dawning of an era generally accepted as historical. By contrast, some scholars treat Viracocha’s predecessors as authentic rulers, whereas for others they belong more to the realm of fiction.

    In writing of this new era, the available data present certain problems. Foremost among these is the relationship of Pachacutec to his father and predecessor, Viracocha. Pachacutec is alternatively portrayed by sources as a legitimate successor on Viracocha’s death, as co-ruler with his father for a substantial period, or as a mere...

  8. CHAPTER 4 The Last Conquerors
    (pp. 64-102)

    This chapter is concerned with the process of long-range conquest attributed to Tupac Inca and his successor, Huayna Capac. The available evidence will be presented as to the extent of their domains and the order in which they were occupied. Such matters as the administration and impressive infrastructure of these conquered provinces will be discussed in subsequent chapters.

    The most coherent sources of information on Inca conquests subsequent to those made by Pachacutec are Cieza, Sarmiento, and Cabello, together with the much later version of Cobo. Contemporary archaeological research offers important data as to the final extent of Inca domination....

  9. CHAPTER 5 The Inca State
    (pp. 103-126)

    The later Inca rulers exercised control over a vast empire, centered upon the city and valley of Cuzco. But Cuzco was no mere administrative capital. So profound was its religious and spiritual authority that it was revered as a holy city, the very founthead of the cult of the Inca ruler as the cherished descendant of the sun and the model for other Inca centers erected in its image throughout Tahuantinsuyu. To cite Coho, “In the middle of them (the four quarters of empire) was the royal city of Cuzco, like the heart in the middle of the body.”¹


  10. CHAPTER 6 The Empire and Its Infrastructure
    (pp. 127-149)

    Many traces of the Incas’ presence throughout their empire have now been located and studied. Archaeological research denotes the existence of a complex infrastructure and suggests a pattern of orderly control. Instinctively, therefore, the temptation may arise to think of this great domain, stretching from slightly north of the Equator almost to a latitude of 35 degrees south, as a basically homogeneous realm subject to a strictly uniform system of imperial rule. But in reality each newly added province was hardly set in the precise mold of those already subdued in order to forge a more or less monolithic whole,...

  11. CHAPTER 7 The Imperial System
    (pp. 150-180)

    Having studied certain aspects of the imperial infrastructure, I now turn to the systems employed by the Incas to govern their Empire. As in the case of accounts of Inca conquest, the problem once more arises of interlinked records, at times partly copied one from another with mere variations in spelling. A number of chroniclers deal with major aspects of imperial rule, such as the powers of provincial governors and other officials generally described as “visitors,” the status of the curacas, the system of justice, the ownership of wealth, the redistribution of merchandise, as well as the somewhat theoretical application...

  12. CHAPTER 8 The Decline and Fall
    (pp. 181-210)

    With the death of Huayna Capac, the period of Inca achievement moved toward its close. The events of both the civil war and the Conquest need to be briefly considered in any attempt to assess this achievement and in particular to understand how the mighty structure of Tahuantinsuyu could suffer such a dramatic collapse.

    The first portentous event was the civil war, which arose on the death of Huayna Capac. Such discord was not wholly without precedent, given the absence of precise rules governing the succession to the throne. In this instance, the Inca hierarchy was reluctant to accept without...

  13. Appendix A A Résumé of the Campaigns of Tupac Inca and Huayna Capac as Related by Sarmiento de Gamboa and Cabello de Balboa
    (pp. 211-216)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 217-232)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 233-248)
  16. Index
    (pp. 249-259)