The Incas called their land Tawantinsuyu, or "Land of the Four Quarters". By 1532, the empire had over 100 administrative units in Peru and Bolivia alone. The empire stretched from southern Colombia to central Chile. Chinchaysuyu, the northern quarter, started in Colombia and ended in Cuzco. The western quarter, Cuntisuyu was a small quarter that reached from Cuzco to the coast. The small eastern quarter, Antisuyu, ran from Cuzco to the east. Collasuyu, the other main quarter, stretched from Cuzco to Chile. Diet depended on altitude. Highland peoples ate guinea pigs and muscovy ducks. They depended on llamas as beasts of burden and raised alpacas for their wool. Coastal peoples also ate guinea pigs but depended more on fish, shellfish, sea mammals, and birds. Maize, beans, lima beans, squash, chilli peppers, potatoes,, sweet potatoes, manioc, tubers such as oca and olluco, quinoa and other grains, avocados, peanuts, gourds, cotton, and coca were grown in various areas. Each community had satellite communities in different altitudinal ecological zones in order to have a varied diet. (3)
Despite the claims of the Incas, the Incan civilization did not rise out of a barbaric vacuum. People have lived in the Andes since before 10,000 B.C. Andean civilization starts with the period known as Preceramic VI (2500 - 1800 B.C.). The rich marine life off the Chinchaysuyu coast (northern Peru) allowed for permanent settlements of up to several thousand people complete with public architecture. Highland communities depended on agriculture. During the preconquest era, the area was swept by three unifying movements that had artistic and religious manifestations. Each movement was centered around a different cult figure. A temple at Chavin de Huantar in the northern highlands of Peru was the main center for the Early Horizon (1400-400 B.C.). This temple was founded in 1500 B.C. and remained in use until 600 B.C. The last cult figure at Chavin was called the "Staff God" and he seems to have been a sky god. From 400 B.C. to 600 A.D., regional civilizations flourished. These regional civilizations included the Moche of the northern coast, Nasca along the southern coast, Recuay of the northern highlands, Huarpa of the south-central highlands, and Tiahuanaco in the Titicaca basin. The next unifying movement was the Middle Horizon from 600 to 900 A.D. Tiahuanaco was an early center of a sky god cult. The god is called the Gateway God because of his depiction on carved stone gateways at Tiahuanaco. Pilgrims visited Tiahuanaco and brought the cult home to their villages. These religious ideas were modified at Huari and then spread from there, perhaps through military conquest. During the later half of the Middle Horizon and the first part of the Late Intermediate Period (900 to 1476 A.D.), Pachacamac was the most important site. Located near modern Lima, Peru, Pachacamac was the center of an oracle and an important pilgrimage site. Soon the area was dominated by a power on the northern coast, the Chimu Empire. This empire flourished from 1200 to 1465 A.D. They were ultimately challenged and conquered by the unifying force of the Late Horizon period (1476 to 1532), the Inca Empire. (3)
When the Incan culture first arose, around 1200 A.D., the people only controlled the area around Cuzco. They were a small group in the southern highlands, an area rife with petty warfare. Eight semi-mythical kings ruled the Cuzco area between 1200 and 1438 A.D. Pachakuti (or Pachacuti) was a son (but not the heir) of the reigning king. The Chanka (or Chancas) northwest of Cuzco mounted an attack on Cuzco. The Chancas were a mighty people who believed they were descended from pumas. Viracocha and his heir, Urcon, abandoned Cuzco. Pachacuti took command and defeated them. He then made himself the king, consolidated the area around Cuzco, and then turned south and annexed the rich Titicaca basin of Collasuyu. Around 1463, Pachacuti turned control of the army over to his son, Topa, while he reorganized his empire and established the Quechua language as the administrative lingua franca. Pachacuti's son, Topa, headed north and conquered the powerful Chimu Empire and the land as far north as Quito, Ecuador. Tawantinsuyu now controlled the richest lands in the Andes. Topa Inca became king in 1471. During his reign he conquered the south coast of Peru, southern Bolivia, northwestern Argentina, and Chile. His son, Huayna Capac (ruled 1493 to 1525 or 1527) conquered a few areas in the north. At the end of his reign, reports spread of strange people landing at Tumbes in the north. They were white with silver jackets and had great wooden houses that traveled on the sea and sticks that thundered. The wooden houses left two men at Tumbes and then sailed away. Huayna Capac ordered the men brought to him but they disappeared along the way. An epidemic soon took the lives of 200,000 people, including a brother, uncle, and sister-wife of Huayna Capac. In 1525 or 1527, Huayna Capac was also struck down by the plague. The crown prince, Ninan Cuyuchi soon died of the plague. Then Huayna Capac himself died of the plague. The plague may have been smallbox, spread by Europeans to the north. For the next seven years, two of Huayna Capac's sons, Huascar and Atahualpa, struggled for control of the empire. Atahualpa eventually gained the throne, only to be defeated by the conquering Spaniards in 1532. (3, 4)
Anahuarque - Wife of Pachacuti (1)
Cava - Wife of Lloque Yupanqui (1)
Chic'ya - Wife of Yahuar Huacac (1)
Chimpu Ocllo - Wife of Tupac Inca (1)
Cuca - Wife of Maita Capac (1)
Curi Illpay - Wife of Capac Yupanqui (1)
Cuxi Uarcay - Daughter of Huascar (1)
Micay - Wife of Inca Roca (1)
Ocllo - A) Wife of the 1st Inca and B) Wife of Huayna Capac (1)
Pillcu Huaco - Wife of Huayna Capac (1)
Runtu - A) Wife of Viracocha Inca, mother of Pachacuti and B) Wife of Huayna Capac (1)
Note: ny = n with a ~ on top.
Amaru = A type of large snake (1)
Anyas = Skunk (1)
Atoc = Fox (1)
Apichu = Sweet potato (1)
Caquingora = Ibis-like bird (2)
Chuchau = Maguey plant (1)
Cocohuay = Turtledove (1)
Cui = Guinea pig (2)
Cuntur = Condor (1)
Cusi = Joy, pleasure, or content (1)
Guacamaya = Macaw or parrot (2)
Huallpa = Sun of joy (1)
Huaman, Guaman = Hawk (1)& (2)
Inchic = Peanuts (1)
Inti = Sun (1)
Mani = Peanut (1)
Micos = A type of monkey (1)
Nyunyuma = Duck (1)
Ozcollo = Wild cat or ocelot (1)
Pacay = Guava (1)
Pachacutec = One who turns or changes the world (1)
Pahuac = Flying (1)
Palta = Pear (1)
Papa = Potato (1)
Pariapichiu = Sparrow (1)
Pisco = A small bird (2)
Pitahaya = Cactus pear (2)
Puma, Poma = Mountain lion or puma (2)
Puna = A type of partridge (1)
Purutu = Beans (1)
Quenti = Hummingbird (1)
Sapallu = Calabashes or melons (1)
Suri = Ostriche (1)
Suyuntu = Turkey-buzzard (1)
Taruca = Deer (1)
Tupac = He who shines (1)
Uchu = Pimiento (1)
Uritu = Parrot (1)
Urpi = Dove (1)
Ussun = Plum (1)
Uturuncu = Tiger (1)
Yutu = A type of partridge (1)
(1) Royal Commentaries of the Incas and General History of Peru, Garcilaso de la Vega, El Inca, trans. Harold V. Livermore, Austin: University of Texas Press, 1966, 1989.
(2) Inca Religion and Customs, Bernabe Cobo, Austin: University of Texas Press, 1990.
(3) The Penguin Encyclopedia of Ancient Civilizations, (ed). Arthur Cotterell, New York: Penguin Books, 1980, 1988.
(4) The Incredible Incas and Their Timeless Land, Loren McIntyre, Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 1975, 1980.
(5) The History of the Incas, Alfred Metraux, New York: Schocken Books, 1969, 1979.
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Created before July 2001 Last Updated November 30, 2009