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Agriculture in the Incan Empire Essay

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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 both the Old and New Worlds used different avenues of economic and political methods to raise resources for state activities. For instance, some empires used a tribute system while others preferred to control mercantilism. In the Incan empire, the state was funded by a system of corvée labor, as well as taxing the administrations of a vast pool of forcibly resettled subjects. These two main sources provided the Incan rulers with the subsistence supplies needed to support its personnel throughout South America. Nonetheless, it was the ways in which the Incans utilized these supplies in a diverse climate that set them apart from other archaic empires of the New World.
The Incans inhabited a unique corner of the world. Marked by stark geographical differences, the Andean region presented the Incans with a diverse environment suitable for growing a wide range of crops. Unlike most of Eurasia, the Incans did not enjoy vast plains of well-watered, fertile earth where large fields of crops could be ...


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...culture was present in their history from the origins of mythical beginnings. From Manco Capac and Mama Huaco’s triumph over the indigenous tribes of the Cuzco Valley to the Spanish invasion of the sixteenth century, farming was a social activity that was celebrated with rituals, sacrifices, and songs. For the Incans, farming was an inclusive event in which everyone, lords and peasantry alike, could participate. A society lacking unifying elements such as standardized money, metallurgy, and technological innovations, the Incans used agriculture as a platform to amalgamate a region that inhabited roughly as many people as the present day. It was because agriculture brought the Incans together as a unified group that they were able to maintain such an extensive empire without the luxuries and technological advances that came to define much of the Eastern Hemisphere.



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