Saturday, March 1, 2008

Peru, Incas and Inca Ruins

What would a visit to Peru be without visiting Inca ruins and learning about the Inca civilization?

The Inca civilization lasted about 100 years and it is amazing what they managed to accomplish in that time. Since the Incas left no written accounts, what we know about them is surmised from the ruins that have been left and the written accounts of Spaniards, who eventually became their conquerors.

There have been many guesses as to how the Incas grew so powerful and accomplished so much. They had built a very extensive roadway system throughout their empire. This allowed them quick access to all parts of their empire and allowed for rapid (at that time) communication and quick response to any far-flung uprising. (Unfortunately, it also made it easier for the Spanish to conquer them.)

It appears that the Incas regarded knowledge and intelligence very highly and adapted the best of each culture they conquered, incorporating that knowledge into their own culture and for their own use. Supporting this is evidence that Inca princesses and princes were not the result of, literally, a royal family but were, instead, the most intelligent among them.

Among many Inca ruins that we visited, two stand out: Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu is well known and has long been thought to be a major Inca site. That thought is beginning to change.

Machu Picchu is located at the beginning of the Amazon Basin and the premise, now, is that it was nothing more than a trading post for the products brought from the Amazon area.

As ideas about the purpose of Machu Picchu change, so have the thoughts about Ollantaytambo, the only location where the Incas won a battle against their Spanish invaders.

It is now speculated that Ollantaytambo was a very important site, both a citadel and a fortress. It is very impressive with its two hundred steps, leading up to a fantastic view of the Inca town and the valley beyond.