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Incas in Peru, Rise of

Inca Origin Myth

The Inca people had as much as forty stories of origin, but two of the most prominent were the Pacariqtambo Legend and the Lake Titicaca Legend. According to the Pacariqtambo Legend, the creator Viracocha and the sun god, Inti decided to create the first man called Manco Capac. He and his siblings were created in three caves in the Tambo Tocco hill in a mythical place called Pacariqtambo. (The rise of the Incas in Peru is recorded on the Bible Timeline with World History during 1100 AD.)

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Only eight of those original siblings survived—four males and four females—and they were later married off to each other. Those who emerged from the Capac Tocco cave (one of the three caves where they were created) were Ayar Manco and Mama Ocllo; Ayar Auca and Mama Huaco; Ayar Cachi ad Mama Cora; and Ayar Cucho and Mama Rahua . They elected Ayar Manco as king (he received the title Capac or king) and later led the group to find the land of their own.

inca
“Viracocha”

When they emerged from the cave, Manco Capac carried with him a golden staff which he used to test whether they had reached the land intended for them or not. If it sank in the ground, it meant that the place was where they would settle but if it did not, they had no choice but to continue their journey. He led them from Pacariqtambo northward to the the valley of Cuzco, and there the golden staff sank into the soil. Three of his brothers were later eliminated, while Manco Capac fathered a son by Mama Ocllo named Sinchi Rocha who later became his successor.

The Lake Titicaca myth pointed to the civilization that flourished in the distant Peru-Bolivia border as the Inca’s origin. It tells the creation of Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo by the sun god Inti in an island on the sacred Lake Titicaca. The place where the Wari culture and Tiwanaku culture of Bolivia flourished. Inti commanded the couple to go and civilize the world, so just like in the Pacariqtambo myth, they traveled north until they reached the valley of Cuzco. Manco Capac also carried a golden staff which he used to test the soil along the way to see whether it was the intended place. The golden staff sank into the soil when they reached the valley of Cuzco. They erected the royal palace and the temple of Inti in the same ground where the golden staff sank.

Behind the Myths

The Inca stories of were often dismissed as myths. Other scholars thought that perhaps there was some kernel of truth behind these fantastic stories. Based on the archaeological evidence recovered from the Inca capital, they found that Cuzco was conquered by the Wari in 600 AD. The Wari controlled the valley for around 300 years. When the Wari empire collapsed around 1000 to 1100 AD, the center of power shifted to the nearby Chuki Pukyu site in the Cuzco Valley. The remnants of Wari empire in the Chuki Pukyu were later overthrown when the Inca empire rose to prominence in the fifteenth century.

The valley had long been in the periphery of the Lake Titicaca cultural sphere. Archaeologists uncovered evidence of foreign influence in Chuki Pukyu which were possibly of Wari origin. During the twelfth century, migrants poured into Chuki Pukyu. They brought with them two important evidence of their presence. First was the remains of their ancestors which they transported from their Lake Titicaca homeland and reburied in niches of the temple walls in Chuki Pukyu. Second was the amount of Mollo culture (from northern Bolivia) ceramics recovered in the same area.

Based on the evidence, the reburial of the remains in niches and the presence of Mollo culture ceramics supported the myth that the Inca people came from the Lake Titicaca region. Also, Tambo Tocco refers to “caves” or “windows” in Quechua language of Peru, but the words translate to “niches” in the Aymara language of Bolivia. It may have referred to the niches in which they reburied their ancestors in Chuki Pukyu.

References:
Picture by Public Domain, Link
Canseco, María Rostworowski De Diez. History of the Inca Realm. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
McEwan, Gordon Francis. The Incas: New Perspectives. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2006.
Steele, Paul R., and Catherine J. Allen. Handbook of Inca Mythology. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2004.
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