We have all heard how the Spanish conquistadores landed in Peru in the 16th Century, “discovered” the Inka civilization, and in the process introduced to the world a sophisticated culture, with state sponsored religion, intricate administration, centralized government, monumental temples and lots of gold and silver. Yet despite the Inka’s societal development and economic success, they were in the grips of a nasty civil war amongst its leadership. Thus, they became vulnerable to the Spanish manipulations to split and conquer. It didn’t take long before the Inka empire crumbled and the mighty Inka society started to morph into the modern mestizo (Inka and Spanish) culture that is Peru today. This morphing is nothing new. The Inka themselves were a gradual mix of cultures they had conquered along the way: the Chimu, the Lambayeque, Lupaka, Colla, Chimor, and Wanka civilizations. The Inka were also related to the advanced Moche, Chan Chan, and Nazca civilizations that came before them. So, as you can see the Inka were a mix, a perfect expression of those that came before them and the contemporaries they subdued and incorporated into their empire.
So, to understand the Inka, you have to also know something about the cultures and civilizations that preceded them. Last week, a one-ton monolith was discovered in a remote jungle of northern Peru in Leymebamba. The monolith was carved from a piece of sedimentary rock that measures about 2.5 feet tall and 10 feet wide. This type of stone is not native to the jungle valley where it was found, however, and must have been moved transported there, with an orchestrated tremendous effort, and carved with abstract, ornate images some 2,000 years ago which has been found at other 2,000-year-old archaeological sites in Peru. The location of the monolith suggests a sacred site and it all shows that the ancestors of the Inka culture the Spanish “discovered” in the 16th Century were present and evolving in Peru 2,000 years earlier.