Amazonas before the Inca Empire

The present-day Department of Amazonas in Peru, occupying part of the western Amazon basin, carries evidence of human cultures predating the Inca Empire.


Prehistoric evidence on rocky walls includes the rock paintings of Chiñuña-Yamón and Limones-Calpón in the province of Utcubamba. Some of these pictorial samples were made by people who had a hunting economy six to seven thousand years ago.

By the time the Peruvian civilization was already formed, there appeared a type of ceramics mainly identified in Bagua Province.


There are many architectural remains from the Chachapoya culture, some of which are Kuelap, Gran Vilaya, Cerro Olán, Purum Llaqta, Cheto, and Gran Pajatén. All these structures appear to be related, but their age and order of construction are unknown.

See also

Andean civilizations

The Andean civilizations were a patchwork of different cultures and peoples that mainly developed in the coastal deserts of Peru. They stretched from the Andes of Colombia southward down the Andes to northern Argentina and Chile. Archaeologists believe that Andean civilizations first developed on the narrow coastal plain of the Pacific Ocean. The Norte Chico civilization of Peru is the oldest civilization in the Americas, dating back to 3200 BCE.Despite severe environmental challenges, the Andean civilizations domesticated a wide variety of crops, some of which became of worldwide importance. The Andean civilizations were also noteworthy for monumental architecture, textile weaving, and many unique characteristics of the societies they created.

Less than a century prior to the arrival of the Spanish conquerors, the Incas, already established in Peru, united most of the Andean cultures into one single state which encompasses all of what is usually called Andean civilization. The Muisca of Colombia and the Timoto Cuica of Venezuela remained outside the Inca orbit. The Inca Empire was a patchwork of languages, cultures and peoples.

Spanish rule ended or transformed many elements of the Andean civilizations, notably influencing religion and architecture.

Chachapoya culture

The Chachapoyas, also called the "Warriors of the Clouds", was a culture of the Andes living in the cloud forests of the Amazonas Region of present-day Peru. The Inca Empire conquered their civilization shortly before the Spanish conquest in the 16th century. At the time of the arrival of the conquistadors, the Chachapoyas were one of the many nations ruled by the Incas, although their incorporation had been difficult due to their constant resistance to Inca troops.

Since the Incas and conquistadors were the principal sources of information on the Chachapoyas, there is little first-hand or contrasting knowledge of the Chachapoyas. Writings by the major chroniclers of the time, such as Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, were based on fragmentary second-hand accounts. Much of what we do know about the Chachapoyas culture is based on archaeological evidence from ruins, pottery, tombs and other artifacts. Spanish chronicler Pedro Cieza de León noted that, after their annexation to the Inca Empire, they adopted customs imposed by the Cusco-based Inca. By the 18th century, the Chachapoyas had been devastated; however, they remain a distinct strain within the indigenous peoples of modern Peru.

Department of Amazonas, Peru

Amazonas (Spanish pronunciation: [amaˈsonas]) is a region of northern Peru bordered by Ecuador on the north and west, Cajamarca Region on the west, La Libertad Region on the south, and Loreto Region and San Martín Region on the east. Its capital is the city of Chachapoyas.

With a landscape of steep river gorges and mountains, Amazonas is the location of Kuelap, a huge stone fortress enclosing more than 400 stone structures; it was built on a mountain about 3,000 meters high, starting about 500 AD and was occupied to the mid-16th century. It is one of Peru's major archeological sites.

History of Mesoamerica (Paleo-Indian)

In the History of Mesoamerica, the stage known as the Paleo-Indian period (or alternatively, the Lithic stage) is the era in the scheme of Mesoamerican chronology which begins with the very first indications of human habitation within the Mesoamerican region, and continues until the general onset of the development of agriculture and other proto-civilization traits. The conclusion of this stage may be assigned to approximately 9000 BP (there are differences in opinion between sources which recognize the classification), and the transition to the succeeding Archaic period is not a well-defined one.

Its starting-point is a matter for some contention, as is the more general question of when human habitation in the Americas was first achieved. It is accepted by a significant number of researchers that the peopling of the Americas had occurred by c. 11,200 years ago.

Inca Empire

The Inca Empire (Quechua: Tawantinsuyu, lit. "The Four Regions"), also known as the Incan Empire and the Inka Empire, was the largest empire in pre-Columbian America. Its political and administrative structure is considered by most scholars to have been the most developed in the Americas before Columbus' arrival. The administrative, political and military center of the empire was located in the city of Cusco. The Inca civilization arose from the Peruvian highlands sometime in the early 13th century. Its last stronghold was conquered by the Spanish in 1572.

From 1438 to 1533, the Incas incorporated a large portion of western South America, centered on the Andean Mountains, using conquest and peaceful assimilation, among other methods. At its largest, the empire joined Peru, southwest Ecuador, western and south central Bolivia, northwest Argentina, a large portion of what is today Chile, and a small part of southwest Colombia into a state comparable to the historical empires of Eurasia. Its official language was Quechua. Many local forms of worship persisted in the empire, most of them concerning local sacred Huacas, but the Inca leadership encouraged the sun worship of Inti – their sun god – and imposed its sovereignty above other cults such as that of Pachamama. The Incas considered their king, the Sapa Inca, to be the "son of the sun."The Inca Empire was unique in that it lacked many features associated with civilization in the Old World. In the words of one scholar,

The Incas lacked the use of wheeled vehicles. They lacked animals to ride and draft animals that could pull wagons and plows... [They] lacked the knowledge of iron and steel... Above all, they lacked a system of writing... Despite these supposed handicaps, the Incas were still able to construct one of the greatest imperial states in human history.

Notable features of the Inca Empire include its monumental architecture, especially stonework, extensive road network reaching all corners of the empire, finely-woven textiles, use of knotted strings (quipu) for record keeping and communication, agricultural innovations in a difficult environment, and the organization and management fostered or imposed on its people and their labor.

The Incan economy has been described in contradictory ways by scholars:

... feudal, slave, socialist (here one may choose between socialist paradise or socialist tyranny)

The Inca empire functioned largely without money and without markets. Instead, exchange of goods and services was based on reciprocity between individuals and among individuals, groups, and Inca rulers. "Taxes" consisted of a labour obligation of a person to the Empire. The Inca rulers (who theoretically owned all the means of production) reciprocated by granting access to land and goods and providing food and drink in celebratory feasts for their subjects.

Periodization of pre-Columbian Peru

This is a chart of cultural periods of Peru and the Andean Region developed by Edward Lanning and used by some archaeologists studying the area. An alternative dating system was developed by Luis Lumbreras and provides different dates for some archaeological finds.

Most of the cultures of the Late Horizon and some of the cultures of the Late Intermediate joined the Inca Empire by 1493, but the period ends in 1532 because that marks the fall of the Inca empire after the Spanish conquest. Most of the cut-off years mark either an end of a severe drought or the beginning of one. These marked a shift of the most productive farming to or from the mountains, and tended to mark the end of one culture and the rise of another.

The more recent findings concerning the Norte Chico civilization are not included on this list, as it was compiled before the site at Caral was investigated in detail.

Population history of indigenous peoples of the Americas

The population figure of indigenous peoples of the Americas before the 1492 voyage of Christopher Columbus has proven difficult to establish. Scholars rely on archaeological data and written records from European settlers. Most scholars writing at the end of the 19th century estimated that the pre-Columbian population was as low as 10 million; by the end of the 20th century most scholars gravitated to a middle estimate of around 50 million, with some historians arguing for an estimate of 100 million or more. Contact with the Europeans led to the European colonization of the Americas, in which millions of immigrants from Europe eventually settled in the Americas.

The population of African and Eurasian peoples in the Americas grew steadily, while the indigenous population plummeted. Eurasian diseases such as influenza, pneumonic plagues, and smallpox devastated the Native Americans, who did not have immunity to them. Conflict and outright warfare with Western European newcomers and other American tribes further reduced populations and disrupted traditional societies. The extent and causes of the decline have long been a subject of academic debate, along with its characterization as a genocide.

Pre-Columbian Peru

Peruvian territory was inhabited 14,000 years ago by hunters and gatherers. Subsequent developments include the appearance of sedentary communities that developed agriculture and irrigation, and the emergence of complex socio-political hierarchies that created sophisticated civilizations, technology and monumental construction.

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