Articles, Blog

The Inca Empire – Out of Thin Air – Extra History – #1

September 23, 2019

Lima 1615 the old man clutches a parcel fat and square that he’s dragged from one end of a fallen Empire to the other He is a mixed-race Christian the son of an Inca aristocrat and a former translator for priests seeking to study and suppress native Andean beliefs Fifteen years before he’d had his property confiscated after suing to get his ancestral lands back since then He’s wandered the country observing the disappearing Inca life compiling a chronicle complete with illustrations It’s a history of the Inca but also a catalogue of abuses by the colonial Spanish his conclusion Spain must reform the government in a way that protects native people and values their culture. He’s carried this book all 1,000 loose pages of it through harsh terrain and bandit country that it survived to this point is a minor miracle and now he’s finally sending it to its intended recipient the king of Spain so Guam on Palma de Ayala takes the only copy of his life’s work and hands it to a man aboard a ship No one will see it again for 300 years When you get off the plane the first Thing you notice is how thin the air is and as you exit the airport a man in a poncho offers you a Styrofoam cup full of coca leaf tea to help you deal with the Andean altitude and your hotel has oxygen tanks in the lobby Cusco sits at nearly three thousand four hundred meters or eleven thousand two hundred feet in altitude when you walk the cobblestone streets you feel dizzy and have to stop for a breath after a few blocks and Then you start to notice something strange Every large Spanish building in the city has been built on a foundation of Incan stone That’s because the Spanish didn’t build Cusco they merely built on top of it it was in fact the Inca who despite the altitude built a city here and Not just any city mind you a city that ruled the largest indigenous Empire to ever exist in the Americas the Inca Empire spanned 2500 miles along the Pacific coast of South America Stretching from present-day Colombia to Chile and it ruled as many as 12 million people but sheer numbers can’t really convey What an impressive feat that was because the Inca also controlled some of the most varied and harsh terrain on the planet Ranging from snow-capped mountains to the humid Amazonian jungle to the Atacama Desert parts of which haven’t seen rain in nearly 400 years Walk the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu a fairly short route You can still follow today and he’ll pass dusty valleys lush agricultural terraces alpine tundra and Jungle, the massive andes themselves create these micro environments forcing the moisture out of passing cloud formations So part of the inca heartland remain wet while earth in the other areas. Stay powder dry in fact many settlements stand at altitudes that are difficult to breathe in for anyone but the Andeans whose lungs have adapted to absorb more oxygen actually After building all of these celebratory churches on the foundations of the Incan capital of Cusco the Spanish moved the capital to Lima partially because they couldn’t handle the altitude but Despite the complexity of ruling over and building in such varied environments The masonry of the Inca highway cuts through all of them at times tunneling through solid rock winding its way through ruins of settlements, fortresses, Terraces and temples and the Inca built this sophisticated state without iron tools the wheel riding or draught animals money or a written language However, they did have quipu, a series of knotted ropes that help them calculate complex equations and remember numbers and dates but the rest of their culture their folklore their religion and their history was all Oral, which becomes a bit of a problem when it comes to telling the history of the Inca Empire Because while the conquest is well documented We have no sources from before the period of the Spanish conquest Like the buildings of Cusco where Spanish constructions stand on inca foundations all of our stories of the Empire Come to us to one extent or another via their colonizers following the Spanish conquest dozens of priests Administrators and former conquistadors set to work interviewing native people in order to capture the Empire’s oral history and while these accounts are better than nothing their usefulness is mixed at best See after the fall of the Inca Empire a struggle began over the Empire’s cultural legacy Spanish authorities stripped the valuables from shrines leveled temples suppressed native religious practices and Confiscated the Imperial mummies and the part of that campaign Involved collecting and telling the Incas oral histories some of the priests collected these stories in hopes It would assist in conversion but many considered the Inca devil worshipers or wrote specifically to make their rule appear illegitimate justifying the Spanish conquest conversely more sympathetic accounts came from Conquistadors who married into the inca elite and had a closer relationship with the culture but these two can display a major gap in understanding even after living in Peru for decades the Spanish didn’t really Understand the Inca or any of the other people who lived under the Empire’s banner Their ideas about religion society and politics were just too different for these chroniclers to capture accurately For example, the Inca didn’t perceive history in a linear fashion to tell the history of their four province Empire They wouldn’t start at the beginning They’d tell the history of the most important province beginning to end before moving on to the neck Most important and so on and it’s from one of these Spanish accounts that we get the date of the Empire’s founding But even that is controversial and maybe entirely wrong the closest we have to a native perspective comes mostly from a generation of mixed-race authors the sons of marriages between Inca noble women and their Spanish conquerors all Christians who were born after the Empire’s destruction among them was blas fira a mixed-race jesuit whose pro inca views especially those about native languages being suitable for discussing church doctrine may have led his order to Imprison then exile him to Spain eventually He was murdered and his work burned during an English pirate raid Only a few excerpts remain from his history mostly in the work of another half Inca chronicler Inca Garcilaso de la Vega who wrote extensively on the Empire’s history but while vega’s book Royal commentaries of the Incas is considered the first literary masterpiece by a Native American It has problems as a work of history because you see Vega left Peru as a teenager and published his chronicles forty-nine years later Meaning his memory of the oral history had likely degraded not to mention He was writing with a specific objective in mind while Guam and Poma rallied against Spanish abuses and Valera pushed for indigenous language and culture to be seen as equal Vega portrayed the Inca Empire as a Perfect society one without poverty where aristocrats like his family provided everything a person would need in Fact it appears that this mode of argumentative history was a hallmark of Andean culture to the Incas It seems history was not necessarily about capturing reality in a fully accurate picture But rather in molding the past to make a specific point, for example the Spanish found multiple Incan families in Cusco told elaborate but conflicting versions of the same history each using it to Justify their claim to a piece of land and as a result of these conflicting testimonies modern historians have come to vastly different conclusions about the Empire depending how they read the sources and because of this Incan society has been portrayed as everything from a communist utopia to a Totalitarian nightmare and details of the Empire’s founding continue to be debated But the history’s paired with archeology do tell us this in the early 13th century a line of kings began Coalescing around what would become the city of Cuzco? Manco capac the semi-mythical founder and as the legends say one of the first people to walk the earth Established the kingdom of cuzco before turning to stone Then came his successors each taking the ruling title of Sapa Inca each named for their greatness in Construction and war and they each took names that matched their glory and were also pretty baller if I do say so myself Such as the valorous generous Inca the left-handed the splendid accountant the Magnanimous and my personal favorite he who weeps blood they built the city and expanded their territory creating the Inca ways of life and bringing order to a chaotic world or Perhaps not because archaeological evidence indicates that many of the things we consider Incan accomplishments their farming terraces building style Agricultural products statecraft roads and knotted quipu were actually inherited from previous Andean societies But regardless of their source the Inca were about to use these tools on a scale No one had ever seen because in Cusco the Sapa Inca had a son He was not the oldest nor the favorite of his father, but he was intelligent brave and with a ruthless vision He had a birth name but that is not how he would be known. He would be known as the earth shaker Pachacuti first emperor of the Inca and a man who would remake the world in Cataclysm Special thanks to educational tier patrons Ovid Xia Turk Joseph blame and Gerald Spencer diamond


  • Reply Extra Credits August 22, 2019 at 1:37 am

    The Extra History for Cusco. The Extra History chosen specially [by patrons!] for Cusco. Cusco's Extra History!

  • Reply Bone Daddy August 26, 2019 at 4:10 pm

    So what I'm getting from the first few minutes is that the Inca Empire would make a great Pokemon region

  • Reply xXLordMouseXx August 26, 2019 at 4:59 pm

    British people know Pachacuti for another reason

  • Reply Corl Franco August 26, 2019 at 6:07 pm

    mexicans could see the future and the past the had gold underwater mirrors to invite forrest ghosts and desert souls they used mirrors […]ot this is forbidden to […] you have to be invited in and need the introduction. please forget all that i just said

  • Reply Lars Frei August 26, 2019 at 6:46 pm

    Whats the difference between a communist utopia and a totalitarian nightmare?

  • Reply Sir Amic Varze August 26, 2019 at 8:00 pm

    This series is acciedentally timely considering what's been happening to the Natives in the Amazon lately.

  • Reply Owen Karunagoda August 26, 2019 at 8:38 pm

    Bruh if I go there I Wil die
    Im from holland
    We are literally half underwater

  • Reply Azmann Khan August 26, 2019 at 9:08 pm

    Bring the old voiceeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

  • Reply Samuel Monroy August 26, 2019 at 11:19 pm

    Can you guys please do the history of the aztecs and mayans

  • Reply Ciborium August 26, 2019 at 11:22 pm

    The 166 downvotes are from Spanish Catholics who think glorifying pagan societies is heretical.

  • Reply SkRxipts Fedated August 26, 2019 at 11:26 pm


  • Reply Puerto Rican August 26, 2019 at 11:49 pm

    Them Spaniards be too dark

  • Reply Atroposian August 26, 2019 at 11:54 pm


  • Reply Rainb0wWarrior1 August 27, 2019 at 3:28 am


  • Reply juan granados August 27, 2019 at 4:54 am

    living at 2600 m above sea level has its perks. and coca leaf tea is great regardless of needing it or not.

  • Reply Peng Fei Dong August 27, 2019 at 5:59 am

    2,500 miles? Hmm… yes, I have problems driving that far, and these sots have to walk it.


  • Reply Joshua Swihart August 27, 2019 at 7:23 am

    Please do teddy roosevelt!

  • Reply hakim sen August 27, 2019 at 8:41 am

    The old song that who speak of the crusades plz give him the mic again your sound is terrible

  • Reply Alexander Halpin August 27, 2019 at 11:21 am

    So when do the gods move to Rome and stand in menacing yet fabulous positions for 2000 years until the nazis wake them up

  • Reply Z'Q August 27, 2019 at 12:09 pm

    Earth Shaker vs The Splendid Accountant.


  • Reply aantony2001 August 27, 2019 at 1:50 pm

    Didn't almost everyone in history write history with the intent of pushing an agenda instead of documenting reality?

  • Reply Dakota Conn August 27, 2019 at 2:14 pm

    Its sad the Spanish tried to eradicate incan culture.

    There was no point in forcing them to abandon Quechua, traditional clothing, or traditional religion…

  • Reply Sentry Will August 27, 2019 at 2:50 pm

    The Spanish: exists
    Me, an EU4 player: laughs in Incan Religious Reforms

  • Reply MythologyandRelegionIknow OSkyBlivionRim August 27, 2019 at 9:55 pm

    Since we're now in South America a vidoe on Brazil or Bolivar and colombia would be nice.

  • Reply T.R. Salsman August 27, 2019 at 10:56 pm

    Honestly I'm kind of disappointed with your perspective in all of this. I hate recommending this book, because the prose is both awful and pretentious, but you should really read Rethinking History by Keith Jenkins. Then you should read Misplaced Massacre by Ari Kellman, which is a fantastic book that puts Jenkins' theory into practice to discuss the history of the Sand Creek Massacre.
    The short version is that history is necessarily an exercise in storytelling. It isn't possible to record every detail of events. Even just trying to record all of the subjective experience of a single person is impossible. Memory itself is incomplete. So history is not an exercise in saying what happened. History is an exercise in arguing that something is important and meaningful in the present. Building on that, historiography is not about sussing out which sources are "good" or "bad". All sources are good sources, because it's not about reading and believing the superficial text of a source, it's about interrogating a source to read its biases (bias is a neutral term by the way, not a proxy for good/bad. All sources are biased).

  • Reply Aaron Ortiz August 28, 2019 at 1:59 am

    Thanks for the bit of Andean music at the end!

  • Reply Rahmad Setyadi August 28, 2019 at 4:35 am

    You manage to cover majapahit empire of water and now Inca empire of air. fire kingdom and earth kingdom next

  • Reply Nicholas Delavin August 28, 2019 at 5:53 am

    I really like the updated art style! Keep up the great work

  • Reply Santiago Suárez-Quiroga August 28, 2019 at 8:43 am

    Growing up in Peru I remember how upset I was as a child when I learned of how theSpanish melted all the gold incan artifacts to ship to Spain and demolished temples to build churches on top of them

  • Reply Johannes Schubert August 28, 2019 at 11:38 am

    Lima balls

  • Reply Crick1952 August 28, 2019 at 11:48 am

    I'm loving all the recent NA videos 😁

  • Reply SquirtlePWN August 28, 2019 at 12:17 pm

    Any chance you can cover the Easter Rising and Irish Troubles?

  • Reply Rico The Beast August 28, 2019 at 2:13 pm

    Awesome video! Can't wait for part 2!

  • Reply Josh Margolis August 28, 2019 at 4:30 pm

    Patchacuti? More like patchabooty am i right fellows? Damn he good shake the earth if u catch my +6 terrace fsrm

  • Reply Alfredo The Pasta August 28, 2019 at 6:34 pm


  • Reply Tömör Bataar August 28, 2019 at 7:10 pm

    You know, their view on history kind of makes sense considering their lack of a proper written language. Without chronicles, historians, bureaucratic reports, no one has any source text for reference and the concept of history comes down to "He says, she says". It's not set in stone, like it litterary is for most lost empires. Might explain their parallell accounts of the province histories, as without a central 'state epic' written down there's no single history to point to.

    It's actually very impressive the Incas managed to carve out a massive cohesive empire without written language.

  • Reply soviet union August 28, 2019 at 9:48 pm


  • Reply la gallina turuleca August 29, 2019 at 12:20 am

    Do San Martín

  • Reply Bronte Stump August 29, 2019 at 2:11 am

    If Kusco doesn't bust into the room with a carpet rolling out yelling, "BOOM BABY" I will be so disappointed.

  • Reply [TheLifeLessVampire] August 29, 2019 at 8:56 am

    Lima Balls

  • Reply Adrian Bittman August 29, 2019 at 12:16 pm

    you gotta mention chimu too!

  • Reply Pachacuti Yupanqui August 29, 2019 at 4:42 pm

    As an addict of culture, the ghosts of the conquistadors still haunt me till this day.

  • Reply Kingyo Fisher August 29, 2019 at 7:49 pm

    Heyyy extra credits plsss do filipino history!!!!! It would be extremely cool

    From: me and my filipino bois

  • Reply Swagato Chatterjee August 29, 2019 at 8:58 pm

    Thanks for pointing out that Father Valera mentioned by Vega was Blas Valera. I tried hard to get hold of Valera's book for 5 years, just gaining the knowledge today that it is lost in time :).

  • Reply Admiral Rogers1 August 29, 2019 at 10:40 pm

    Hey can we get a series on B L E S S E D Karl? Pls?

  • Reply Game Hero August 30, 2019 at 1:32 am

    Whenever someone brings the Incas, i can't stop thinking about the original Mysterious Cities of Gold. That show was awesome!

  • Reply Zakaria Alami August 30, 2019 at 2:01 am

    You guys are great thank you

  • Reply BAU23 August 30, 2019 at 3:01 am

    Are the podcasts going to continue?

  • Reply Steve August 30, 2019 at 3:45 am

    Missionaries should be shot on sight.

  • Reply ian dick August 30, 2019 at 1:45 pm

    "…a communist Utopia or a totalitarian nightmare." What's the difference? Lol,

  • Reply Lucas-Tyler Harrington August 30, 2019 at 4:53 pm

    I drink from their skull
    (Do the Pachacuti!)
    Pull out their teeth whole
    (Do the Pachacuti!)
    Turn teeth into charms
    (Do the Pachacuti!)
    Make flutes out of their arms

  • Reply jmjack156 August 30, 2019 at 5:33 pm

    Airsick lowlanders

  • Reply Valeria Vera Alva August 30, 2019 at 5:54 pm

    I want to thank you so much for making an video essay on Inca culture and history!! I'm Peruvian, and here in the US, their world history classes much too often omit South American cultures, and there is so much to learn about them- I learned a couple things on my own people from this, tysm!

  • Reply doverlan 2222 August 30, 2019 at 7:24 pm

    Make some content about the Paraguayan war

  • Reply Violet Rose August 31, 2019 at 9:04 am

    I am glad that at least the memory of these empires got to last. Sadly, they didn't.

  • Reply Wynn Berman August 31, 2019 at 3:48 pm

    8:40 we built this city on rock and roooollllllllllllll

  • Reply chair August 31, 2019 at 8:23 pm

    The names of the king's are like a d&d party saying there characters names then there's just that one emo

  • Reply My Life Is Like The Cake August 31, 2019 at 10:02 pm

    Th- the title was a… PUN?!

  • Reply Keegan M August 31, 2019 at 11:57 pm

    ….. It's exactly 10 minutes

  • Reply LiL JunkBear September 1, 2019 at 2:06 am

    Eat ass

  • Reply Marccernary September 1, 2019 at 3:26 am


  • Reply Marccernary September 1, 2019 at 3:29 am

    This episode is really… BREATH TAKING

  • Reply serialkillerwhale September 1, 2019 at 3:59 am

    He would be known, as the Earth Shaker.

    And he would win six million dollars with a single Echo Slam.

  • Reply Derrick White September 1, 2019 at 4:12 am

    The "Thin Air" stuff bugs me. People like to make a big deal about elevations above 10,000 feet like its a magical tipping point. I grew up at 5,000 feet, and spent several weeks during several summers at around 10,000 feet. The air is thinner, but its not impossibly thin, and it certainly doesn't require genetic features to become accustomed to. You can run out of breath faster, but only doing things that make you run out of breath eventually anyways.

  • Reply joshsera September 1, 2019 at 5:57 pm

    I have to say, I like the videos that focus on historical and cultural context way more than videos that are just about battles. The series about the Bronze Age Collapse was the one that drew me into this channel in the first place.

  • Reply Diego Lamanya September 1, 2019 at 8:37 pm

    Fuck spain

  • Reply Paul Gaither September 1, 2019 at 10:27 pm

    I am a long time fan of EC and am an expat who has lived in Lima for over 8 years now. I am so happy to see these videos.

  • Reply Chris DaBeast September 1, 2019 at 11:00 pm

    Exactly 10:00 long

  • Reply Joaquin Aranda R. September 1, 2019 at 11:49 pm

    Fuimos increíbles

  • Reply Elizabeththegreatest September 2, 2019 at 2:45 am

    The Spanish were wimps!

  • Reply Daniel Ocampo September 2, 2019 at 5:17 pm

    The Inca had written language into sticks… the spanish bastards destroyed all of it as part o thir ignorance and blood thirst

  • Reply Lopez Mario September 3, 2019 at 3:23 am

    Loved the music at the end!! Beautiful touch!❤️

  • Reply Jaime Muñoz September 3, 2019 at 4:56 pm

    The conquest of the american continent by the spanish was truly the biggest feat in human history

  • Reply Gol - Rad September 3, 2019 at 8:26 pm

    Did the king pull out their teeth whole? Turn teeth into charms?

  • Reply josé David Garcés Ceballos September 3, 2019 at 10:05 pm

    Now that you guys came to this, let me give you a name: Tupac Amaru. Just in case in the future…

  • Reply Ganjagank September 4, 2019 at 2:59 pm

    Imagine the only thing people remember you for is you using your left hand instead of your right to do things.

  • Reply Mark Burnett September 5, 2019 at 7:02 am

    This why I love history it’s so interesting but I can’t do school history classes which teach you with the most monatone and boring assignments except 7th grade history they made it interesting and entertaining

  • Reply J.S. Tama September 6, 2019 at 4:51 pm

    This had the best start to any extra history ever

  • Reply ROBOSapiens Sapiens September 6, 2019 at 6:28 pm


  • Reply Onyx Dragon September 7, 2019 at 6:41 pm

    Spanish colonizers as they collected history from the Incas:
    "Yes, it's all coming together."

  • Reply Codie Thresher September 7, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    It's tragic how Queen Isabella's successors more or less ignored her feelings regarding how the native Americans should be treated. Of course it doesn't help that her eldest two children who likely would've been worthy successors died before her without surviving children of their own.

  • Reply Chris Campos September 7, 2019 at 9:56 pm

    Hey it’s kind of cool how you guys are talking about the inca empire. Im part inca and my mother is too.

  • Reply Taylor Gibson September 8, 2019 at 1:24 am

    You'll notice how he told us their descriptive names in English so as not to have to pronounce the Incan names.😂

  • Reply Alex Medina September 8, 2019 at 6:21 am

    Growing up in Peru we were taught that one of the possible translations of Pachacutec was "el que transforma la tierra," or "he who transforms/changes/overturns the earth, so I guess a punchier name would be "The Earth Shatterer" but the other one works too.

  • Reply Ilikepie Mapper September 9, 2019 at 12:29 am

    The splendid accountant

  • Reply Adventurer32 September 9, 2019 at 2:25 am

    Who else played Inca in eu4?

  • Reply Blade Tiger September 9, 2019 at 9:30 am

    An empire so great that brazilian coast Natives knew of their existence and had roads going to Cusco.

  • Reply GreatRedMenace September 9, 2019 at 2:22 pm

    No offence, but Guaman Poma de Ayala probably didn't write the work attributed to him. In fact, studies following the discovery of the Miccinelli manuscripts demonstrate that it was Blas Valera confesses to write the "Nueva crónica y buen gobierno". Valera, and other Jesuits, weren't "sympathetic" to the Inca as much as hostile to the Spaniards. The Jesuits wanted to present an idealized, Christian version of pre-Hispanic Peru, one that demonstrates that the Spanish crown was unnecessary for the Christianization of the Americas. As a result, the Jesuits were expelled repeatedly because of their subversion of the Crown, specifically the rights awarded to the indigenous peoples of the Americas by the Crown itself. Jesuit thinkers were appalled, for example, over the idea of wealthy indigenous women as existed in the mining town of Potosí.

    The fact is that the indigenous peoples of Peru were in fact quite content with the protections the Spanish crown offered them, and freedoms and rights were awarded them depending on their specific situation. You present it as if Guaman Poma and Blas Valera had an agenda of "fighting against oppression", when in truth they were advocating for the indigenous people's rights' suppression in the first place (had Guaman Poma even existed, that is).

  • Reply Nolan Pham September 10, 2019 at 3:03 am

    Where my APMWH boys (and girls) at??

  • Reply Ian Moore September 10, 2019 at 11:11 pm

    I hate pachacuti he keeps burning my Shoshone trading post of agaidka in civ and it pisses me off (:

  • Reply Laura Elizabeth September 11, 2019 at 9:25 pm

    All your series like history and mythology should be separate channels to follow

  • Reply Владислав Гаврилов September 13, 2019 at 7:49 pm

    Tbh communist utopia and totalitarian nightmare sound like different political taste over the same society

  • Reply A Google User September 14, 2019 at 8:39 pm

    Damn, after writing 1000 pages, you might want to take the extra few days to make a copy before sending it across the sea.

  • Reply Peter Smythe September 15, 2019 at 10:08 am

    "From a communist utopia, to a totalitarian nightmare."

    As have all actual communist countries lol.

  • Reply Boanjamin September 15, 2019 at 11:43 am

    lima bols

  • Reply Mikosch2 September 15, 2019 at 11:58 am

    I do not like at all how you omitted the Inca themselves have built their structures on ancient megalithic foundations. And somehow I have the feeling you're not going to mention it in the Lies episode as well…

  • Reply monolith94 September 15, 2019 at 9:30 pm

    “From a communist utopia to a totalitarian nightmare” – we call this a distinction without a difference

  • Reply Daniel A. Valadez September 16, 2019 at 4:56 am

    Extra Credits: 11,200 Feet
    Me: Laughs in Coloradan

  • Reply Kyle U September 17, 2019 at 12:37 am

    AP World History has brought me here, Thank you for your work. It helped me get a 5 on last years AP Human Geo Exam.

  • Reply Amelié Mena September 22, 2019 at 12:20 am

    As a Peruvian-American, I'm really happy that you made this video!

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