Prior to this class, I had not learned much about the Inca state. I had heard the name Inca before, but never knew them to be the well organized, largest state in the New World that they were. I can’t help but notice the similarities between the organization of the Inca state and the ancient Egyptian state.
The fact that the Inca state can be compared to ancient Egypt is a testament in itself to the success that the Inca state experienced during its time. As we previously have seen with the pharaohs in Egypt, the Inca state was controlled by one ruler, that is, the Sapa Inca, who was mummified after he passed away. The Sapa Inca was considered to be related the gods, also similar to the Egyptian pharaohs who had a divine right to rule. This Sapa Inca tradition began with the Manco Capac, the first Sapa Inca, who founded the short-lived Kingdom of Cuzco, from which the Inca state arose.
I was intrigued to learn in class how these Sapa Inca, even after their deaths, continued to be involved in the running of the state. The deceased Sapa Inca’s possessions remained entitled to him, and were not given to the next Sapa Inca, a practice called split inheritance. The fact that this split inheritance practice was created and adhered to demonstrates the respect the Sapa Inca had for each other. Because the possessions of the old Sapa Inca were not passed on, the new Sapa Inca needed to find ways to obtain his own wealth. To obtain wealth, it was necessary for the Sapa Inca to conquer new lands, from which tribute could be extracted. Each new Sapa Inca’s attempts to gain wealth is what caused the Kingdom of Cuzco to continue to expand and become the Inca state.
The lands conquered by the Sapa Inca gave tribute to the state, or as it was known by the Inca, Mit’a. Tribute, which also existed in ancient Egypt, was not only used as a means for the Sapa Inca to obtain wealth, but helped to support the construction of large public works, like terraces and roads, that, without tribute, could not have been built. Tribute existed as labor, which was helpful because many laborers were needed to build complex works. Tribute also existed in the form of food, which was needed to feed the laborers so that they would continue to have enough energy to work on and complete these large projects.
The organization of the Inca state is physically manifested in the roads that were constructed, which were extensive, spanning the entire Inca state so that even the most distant places were connected. The fact that the state was able to gather enough laborers to complete such a large project also demonstrates the high level of organization of the Inca state.
It has been truly intriguing to learn about the Inca state. Considering the large territory that it occupied, it is incredible that the Inca state was as well organized as it was.