Today, Cusco is known as the ‘Archaeological capital of America’. About 50 miles northwest of Cusco, you will find Machu Picchu, the ruins of a fantastic fortress city of the ancient Incas–18 sq. km. of terraced stone walk linked by 3,000 steps, stone upon stone, fitted together perfectly without cement! This ‘Lost City of the Incas’ now still retains an air of grandeur and mystery, along with other massive Inca fortresses such as Sacsayhuaman, Choquequarao, Ollantaytambo and Pisaq.
Inca craft workers created many fine jewelry and articles from gold, silver and other materials. In fact, our friend Jorge’s family ancestors descended from these skillful craft workers. The pottery of the Incas was beautiful and well made. And the Incas also wove fine cotton cloth, with elaborate geometric designs.
An emperor ruled the empire. Inca emperors ruled their far-reaching territory through a complex political system. The Incas took over many areas by military force. But their political system kept a balance between the central authority of the emperor and the local rulers. The Inca tried to keep the existing local rulers of the different Indian civilizations in power after conquering their territory. These rulers were allowed to govern independently as long as they did not rebel, paid taxes and kept storehouses of food supplies. In this way, the Inca maintained strong ties within the empire.
The emperor was responsible for the well being of the empire and its people. He made sure the people were well fed. His duties included expanding the empire and making sure that the people followed the proper religious observances and proper diet. In the Inca way of life, there was emphasis put on eating a healthy diet. And healthy diet meant grains, vegetables, root crops, beans, fruits and nuts. All the subjects of the empire were required by the emperor to eat such a diet in order to maintain a strong body and an astute mind. The emperor himself everyday ate a healthy, meatless diet. And so did his council of nobles who also acted as governors for the different provinces, the chief priest and the generals.
… there was emphasis put on eating a healthy diet. And healthy diet meant grains, vegetables, root crops, beans, fruits and nuts.