Cuzco: An Incan City

Cuzco, an Incan city located in the Andes Mountains (in Modern Peru) was a thriving metropolis at the time Francisco Pizarro arrived in 1533.  The Spaniards were quick to identify the most sacred sites of the city and replace them with symbols of the new Spanish authority.  The conquerors were happy to discover a wealth of gold and silver in the temples of the native population.

Cuzco (Qosqo) was the founding Incan city and eventual headquarters of the Incan empire.  Quechua, the language of the empire, was spoken there.  The quechua word for "navel" was Cuzco.  The Incans thought of this city as the physical and cultural center of their empire, like a navel on the human body.

Cuzco was at the center of an elaborate system of roads that  spanned the empire.  These routes allowed the chaski (runner-messengers) to spread information at about the same rate that it takes the post office to send packages around the U. S. today.  Considering the mountainous terrain of the empire, this was quite efficient.  Armies also traveled on the road network, allowing the Incas to discipline or conquer outlying villages.

Downtown Cuzco was in shape of a crouching puma

Naturally, there was an elaborate palace in the capital city.  The Incan emperors lived here.  Like many other Inca stone buildings, this structure featured finely crafted walls, as you see at the left. Inca artisans served their empire by creating beautiful, intricate objects.  Skilled artists produced work in gold, silver, textiles, architecture, and ceramics.  Some of these special objects were used in religious ceremonies

This week's featured art...