Lecture 19: Indus Valley and Inka Civilization

Inka Civilization


  • Located in South America (West Coast and highlands).
  • ca. 1450 AD to 1530 AD. Started at one location and expanded rapidly, taking over areas which were already united, ending in a united state organization empire. It fell at the arrival of the Spanish.
  • Food based and other resources. (Used contemporary crops. There were many diverse areas to get their food from: maze, corn, beans and cotton from the lowlands, potatoes, Quinoa and grains from the highlands and also meat, alpaca, lama and wool).
  • Guaman Poma made a book on the life of the Inka to show the Spanish that they were civilized people and not savages.

Cultural, Social and Ritual System

  • Take over and expand the earlier Chimor Empire.
  • The material culture is similar overlay but also had local ethnic diversity. Cloth is a divine tribute, and women were raised to be professional weavers and work for the empire.
  • Class structure was very visible, used power through force. Divine ruler's → noble's → soldier's → diverse groups at the bottom such as civilians. Made people wear local clothing to identify them with their groups so they could tell who was trespassing. Wanted controlled settlements.

Economic System

  • Trade and roads \rightarrow Stored many things and learned freeze drying to make the items last longer in storage. Traded food for labor. Managed trade over a large area with a controlled road system and a runner who would carry messages between areas.
  • Accounting system \rightarrow Used a khipu as a numeric record.
  • Craft production \rightarrow Controlled by the elite.
  • Labor management \rightarrow City had narrow valleys so they created a terrace system to protect them from the steep drop. This shows organized labor.

Political and Ritual System

  • Imperial pyramid with a divine ruler (Inka).
  • Heavy use of force/coercion for control.
  • The empire united many different people.
  • Each ruler had their own place which was maintained as a shrine. (ex. the Machu Picchu was a summer retreat for the Inka).

Indus Valley (Harappan) Civilization


  • Located in the Indus Valley floodplains (Pakistan and North West India).
  • 2,600 - 1,900 BC
  • Secure food base and other resources including wheat, barley and cattle.
  • Smaller cities which were spaced far apart were similar (had a standard, where the rooms were laid out to consider the sewage system) because of organized and elaborate planning.
  • Example \rightarrow They had sewage systems (dumps were found on either side of the city so we know that someone came at night and collected the sewage). This showed they had the desire for things to look a certain way.

Cultural and Social System

  • Material culture \rightarrow There were wealth differences. The usual burial goods included pottery and shell bangles. Didn't have wealthy burials, but some had beads because they traded and sold these items instead. Stored their wealth in hoards, hidden away. This was very well made and time consuming.
  • Class structure \rightarrow None. But who lead all the organization?

Economic System

  • Trade \rightarrow Rich agricultural setting, no other resources such as rock, metal or timber. So if they needed them, they'd have to trade it from other societies far away. This created an expansive trade system and they gained many solid connections through networking.
  • Craft production \rightarrow Figurines
  • Evidence for script for accounting/ownership included seal impression, seals and inscribed tablets (which had standardized script).
  • Had a standardised weight system.
  • Had natural and imitation materials from merchants. Didn't use them to build statues, only had small statues of the king.

Political System

  • Basis of right to power (no evidence of force).
  • Shared power.
  • Unobtrusiveness of elite.
  • Well-integrate and managed systems.


  • No evidence for unified religion.
  • No permanent temples, but may have had tree worshipping.

Social Cohesion

  • Coercion (force)
  • Ideologically motivated solidarity
  • Religion
  • Social rules
  • Shared economic interests
  • Trade
  • Wealth accumulation
  • Kin relationships
  • Real or fictive ethnicity
  • What is uniting the Indus? Political unity, religious unity and social groups with shared interests.

Archeology Goals

  • To describe the past (specifically) \rightarrow who, when and where.
  • To analyze and reconstruct past life ways (behaviour) \rightarrow what.
  • To explain past events and directions (trends and causes) \rightarrow how and why.

Careers in Anthropology

  • All \rightarrow NGO, government (civil service), law, service
  • Sociological \rightarrow Advertising, business practices consultant, HR publishing, editing, journalism (niche), theatre and television.
  • Archeological \rightarrow Cultural heritage management (prehistoric and historic, private and government) and tourism.
  • Biological \rightarrow Technical labs, medical/public health and police (with forensics).

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