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Peru is famous throughout South America for its ancient civilisations, like the Incas, amongst the many other things they're famous for!

Known later by the name they used to designate their leader, the Incas rose to power in Cusco. Leading them was Pachacuti a military strategist, statesman, and diplomat of enormous skill. Armies under Pachacuti and his son and successor, Topa Inca, conquered the entire mountainous area from Quito south past Lake Titicaca. Topa Inca also subjugated the coastal kingdom of Chimor, and extended the Inca domain farther south, as well as east to the fringes of Amazonia. 

These obscure people whose rulers claimed descent from the sun embarked on a series of conquests that enabld them to dominate the last hundred years of Andean history. Although their subsequent supremacy was often achieved through diplomacy, the Incas boasted one of the most well organized and ruthless armies of the ancient world. The Incas maintained their realm with astonishing efficiency. Along these thoroughfares moved mobile army units, accompanied by pack trains of llamas and by chasquis, specially trained runners who relayed memorized news and the orders of the empire between carefully spaced tambos, or way stations. 

These messengers formed a communications system that could guarantee one-day delivery for every 140 miles of road. 

They called their empire Tabuantinsuyu, "the land of the four quarters," reflecting a fourfold geographic division that was in turn subdivided into more than 80 provinces. These were populated by taxpaying citizens in carefully documented groups. The use of Quechua, the Inca language, as the common tongue of administration helped to unify the patchwork population, as did commerce and the institution of the Inca pantheon as the official state religion. 

At the apex of power stood the emperor, the ''Unique Inca," a divine representative of the sun. From him control filtered downward through an elite class of nobles. Some were hereditary. Other select groups in conquered lands who were willing to cooperate with their new leaders became "Incas by privilege."  The majority of the empire's able-bodied citizens sustained its economy with the mita, or service tax in the form of agricultural work or of labor in government-owned mines, and on bridges, buildings, and roads.

In return, the system guaranteed that every individual even the old or disabled would receive his or her basic needs. The diverse peoples of the empire were controlled by a highly authoritarian bureaucracy. Potentially rebellious groups were transplanted into the midst of loyalists, while trustworthy subjects were moved to areas of dissent. The military garrisons that dotted the land served as constant reminders of Cuzco's might.

Topa Inca's son, Huayna Capac, pushed the boundaries of his realm even farther north and ruled over the greatest period of Inca magnificence. But Huayna Capac died suddenly in 1524. Infighting over succession followed, spurred by the spread within the royal line of contagious diseases introduced by the earliest European explorers. 

These factors, coupled with a growing number of rebellious subjects throughout the far-flung Inca territories, rendered the empire particularly vulnerable to the armies of the Spanish invader Francisco Pizarro in 1532. The earliest systems of irrigation canals eased the lives of settlers along the strip of desert coast, where the only sources of water were narrow rivers. In the highlands massive stone terraces transformed the steep Andean slopes into fertile fields. The most amazing achievements of engineering, however, are to be found in the roads, bridges, storehouses, fortified towns, and way stations built by the Incas.

Inca roads in the highlands were especially designed for the challenging terrain. Switchbacks scaled the steepest slopes, much like their modern counterparts. Sometimes paved with stone, the thoroughfares were often supported by retaining walls that have lasted for more than 500 years. To bridge rivers, the Incas lashed balsa-reed boats together or built sturdy stone spans. 

The deepest ravines they conquered with the world's first known suspension bridges, swinging constructions of braided fiber and vine anchored to pillars on opposite sides of a chasm. The anonymous Inca engineers achieved artistic immortality with the design of massive masonry walls that incorporated stones weighing more than 100 tons. The irregular but fastidiously finished blocks interlock so perfectly the joints between them appear as mere hairlines.

Such walls make up fortresses of sophisticated military design, like Sacsahuaman on the outskirts of Cuzco, and temples whose remains lie undisturbed beneath modern towns. The stonework even provides the foundation for great cities like Machu Picchu, the spectacular outpost of Inca culture that still crowns its mountaintop site high above the turbulent Urubamba River. A vast network of highways linked all parts of the Inca Empire. Often the Inca himself, borne on a golden litter, traveled along the roads, followed by an elaborate entourage of courtiers, entertainers, soothsayers and concubines.

The most visible and enduring monuments of ancient South American civilization are indeed the marvels of engineering that helped tame the landscape and bridge the rivers of the Andean area. Given the raw materials and tools available to them and their predecessors, these accomplishments seem almost miraculous. What they did achieve was largely due to their organizational abilities. As soon as the Spaniards had disrupted the state's monolithic bureaucracy, the sun began to set on ancient South America's most spectacular civilization.

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List of ALL PROJECTS in Peru


List of ALL PROJECTS in Peru

List of ALL PROJECTS in Peru

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