Essay on Agriculture in the Incan Empire

2197 Words9 Pages
At the time of their demise, the Incan Empire had nearly as many domesticated plant species as all of Eurasia. There was no sign of the wheel or work animals that could be yoked to a plow, and the Incans had limited use of metallurgy. Yet the mighty South American empire terraced, irrigated, and produced enough food for millions of people. The Incans were able to sustain agricultural surpluses by intensive exploitation of the land and sophisticated methods of storage and dispersal of grains and tubers. Through a culture based on agriculture the Incans were able to expand their empire into one of the largest in the New World. Until their demise, the Incans used agriculture as a unifying force in several different ways.
Empires throughout
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The Incans were astute in that they cultivated as many of the climactic zones as possible. Cultivating a wide range of crops in varying climates protected the Incans, to certain extent, from crop failure . Safeguarding laypeople against unpredictable environmental conditions created a sense of unity in that it allowed the Incans to feed nonproducing sectors of society, such as state messengers, various artisans, metalworkers, and the thousands of warriors needed to conquer a portion of western half of South America from Chile to Ecuador.
In 1460 AD, the Incans conquered a region from the native Huancas, Xauxa, of South America that proved to be both logistically and environmentally important to the empire. Prior to the Incan invasion, the Huancas densely fortified themselves on hilltops in defensive, nucleated bands or tribes. The Huanca clearly saw security as an issue. Yet after the Incans introduced their methods of subsistence agriculture, the Huancas began moving down slope to inhabit the low-lying river valleys where crops could be grown and surpluses could be accumulated. At the same time, the Incans began adopting Huancan polities into regional and state government, a transition made easier since food production was not an overriding concern. Here the Incans have used their agricultural practices as a unifying force to incorporate a conquered tribe into the empire, a common theme for the
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