Golden sun disc, Paititi, Cuzco, Peru
The Inca were the last major civilization of the Andes, the descendant of a human presence in the region dating back millennia. In this regard, the Inca rose to be the greatest empire of the Americas, in its heyday stretching from Colombia to southern Chile, including a population of over 12 million people. Yet given the fragmented nature of society during the early 11th century, it was not a given that it would be the Inca that rose to the pinnacle of Andean civilization.
Archaeologist and senior researcher at CONICET Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina, Kevin Lane analyzes the Inca rise to power, highlighting the social, economic, cultural, dynastic, and military reasons behind the emergence of their imperial hegemony throughout western South America.
Lane also considers their demise when in 1532, Francisco Pizarro and his conquistadors precipitated the fall of the Inca Empire in the years following their landfall, hastening the collapse of an empire already riven by civil war and disease. In the turbulent years that followed, Andean and Inca culture experienced increasing strain and change. Nevertheless throughout, Andean society survived emerging as a vibrant hybrid, channeling both Andean and European modes of life. Lane concludes with a focus on the Inca debacle and the foundation of a Spanish colonial society, tracing how Andean society by turns assimilated or resisted foreign impositions down to the present day.
Lane is the author of The Inca: Lost Civilizations.
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