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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Huaylas and Horizontal Relationships

This is actually a fascinating article about not so current events (1530). The topic is Pizzaro's conquest of the Inca empire. This is one of the more amazing events in history. IIRC Pizzaro lead 70 soldiers to the conquest of an empire of roughly 12,000,000 people. The version of history I learned is that this demonstrated the psychological power of muskets (70 mussel loaded muskets would be of little use against a disciplined army of thousands armed with sharpened sticks let alone the Inca army) and the extreme vulnerability of empires which have long been locally hegemonic due to their mental rigidity (in this case excessive devotion to the emperor which gave Pizzaro great power between the capture and killing of Atahualpa).

The new discovery is of 72 hastily buried corpses in an Inca burial ground. Carbon dating suggests that the deceased were killed in a battle in 1530 (after Pizzaro had killed Atahualpa). Many skulls were crushed by clubs. Let me hand the mike over to Cock.

Cock, who is trained as a historian as well as an archaeologist, said about 30 of the 72 bodies had been killed by native weapons -- lending support to his theory that Pizarro succeeded only because he enlisted the help of other tribes who were enemies of the Incas. Pizarro's closest allies are believed to have been the Huaylas, who lived about 100 miles north of Lima, Cock said. Pizarro is known to have taken a prominent Huayla woman to be his mistress, and Huayla forces are believed to have had a decisive impact during the Lima siege.

The excellent article concludes with an unfortunately phrased quote

"They joined Pizarro in the hope of being rewarded with more independence and freedom," Cock said. "I believe they wanted a more equal, more horizontal relationship with the Spaniards. Clearly, that did not happen."

All I can say is that if my name were Cock, I would be careful about using the word "horizontal" to discuss an alliance sealed in bed.

update: I forgot to link to the article.
Thanks anonymous commenter.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The article sounds interesting even without your funny snark. How about a link?