Weekly Recap #11

Progress on a Historical Mystery that I’m Paying Attention To – Decoding the Mysterious Quipus of the Inca. This one is going to have a lot of pictures from my trip to the Andes in 2016. There are few civilizations born on our earth as interesting and particular as the Inca. Their emergence as a unified political entity in the plateaus of the Peruvian Andes around the 13th Century is steeped in myth and opaque stories which leave much to interpretation. After centuries spent solidifying their regional supremacy, the Inca sprung upon their neighbours. After a series of conquests and diplomatic coups, they found themselves transformed from city state into one of Earth’s largest Empires. In about sixty years, all of Western South America became the dominion of Cuzco, and the many millions who found themselves part of the empire were the subjects of Cuzco’s approximately 40,000 Inca inhabitants. 

Terraced hills at the end of a trek, with my travel companion in front. My picture from 2016

From here on I will refer to the peoples of the Andes generally as the Inca, though in truth, this was an empire, composed of a great many nations and cultures.

The Inca Empire is fun to learn about. Their isolation from the rest of the world, even from Mesoamerica, allowed them to develop into a formidable empire composed of tens of millions of citizens, all the while preserving so many unique, eccentric characteristics. Truly, until the Inca are considered, a great many characteristics we see in human cultures appear to be naturally emergent: these characteristics cannot help but appear once we reach a certain population size. The Inca spit in the face of this belief!

Ruins of Pisac, with the incredible curved terraced hillside bellow, which would have fed the mountain top community hundreds of years ago. My pictures, from 2016

For example, the Incan empire was composed of a minimum of 12 million individuals, and possibly many more, but it never used or invented a concept for money. The Inca Empire never developed the wheel into a useful tool. It made almost no use of draft animals in work and industry (with the exception of the llama). The Inca Empire, along with the Tibetan Empire, are the only empires I know to have existed in a mountainous terrain.  Moreover, the Inca had no knowledge of steel or iron.

See the rest of this article and picture collection through this link.

Photographic Archive That Captivated MeThe Work of Adelphoi Zangaki (the Zangaki Brothers). These two brothers were Greek photographers. They were probably called Constantine and George, though we don’t actually know for sure. Between 1870 and 1890, the brothers travelled throughout Egypt and other parts of what was the Ottoman Empire at the time, taking pictures of all the greatest sights they could. Going through archives of their work is like travelling in space and in time. Not only do you see the state of Egypt in the 1800s, but you see the people, and the city streets of another world. From what I can gather, the brothers travelled with a horse drawn darkroom wagon, in which they developed the photos you see here. Not much is known about them, besides the fact that they took some great photos. I highly recommend their work, it was a pleasure to build the archive on Pinterest for this post. See it by following this link.

Quote I’m PonderingIt is not possible for a man to banish all fear of the essential questions of life unless he understands the nature of the universe and unless he banishes all consideration that the fables told about the universe could be true. Therefore a man cannot enjoy full happiness, untroubled by turmoil, unless he acts to gain knowledge of the nature of things. – Epicurus

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