History

Maya vs Inca

When it comes to South and Central America, most of us get very confused between the Inca and the Maya. If we examine both races we realize that the Maya developed way before the Inca. Mayan cities were first built around 2000 B.C. While the Inca civilization began around 1200 A.D. Indeed the Mayans were still around when the Spanish arrived. Today their descendants are still a sizable population, contrary to what people think. The Mayans were found in southern Mexico and northern Central America. The Incas on the other hand spread through what is now Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina, more or less near the coasts of these countries. The Incas were also conquered by the Spanish.

Maya Ball Court

Ball Court, Maya
Photo Source: Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5

It is sort of funny when you hear some people say that the Maya all disappeared. They may have left a lot of empty cities, but there are over 7 million Maya living in the traditional areas that they inhabited many thousands of years ago. It is just that they now live in countries that have formed and no longer inhabit Maya cities. The largest populations of Mayans inhabit several Mexican states such as Yucatan, Campeche, Quintano Roo, Tabasco and Chiapas and the countries of Belize, Guatemala and parts of Honduras and El Salvador. They are far from having disappeared. The Inca empire was almost totally wiped out by disease brought by the Spaniards. Smallpox was a major killer wiping out as many as 94 percent of the Inca population. It spread quickly due to their excellent system of roads.

Sometimes we find out facts that seem very strange when we look into past races and the Maya and Inca are no different. The Maya, preceded the Inca by thousands of years, yet the Maya had a written language and the Inca who came along much later had none. The Maya wrote in Maya hieroglyphic script. I don't know about you, but this makes me feel that there was not that much contact between the two groups of people. The reason that I think this is that you would have thought that if there was, the Inca would have picked up a written language also. It is also important to know that the Maya spoke several different Maya languages and there may not have been a written equivalent for all of them.

Pyramid Temple Maya

Maya Pyramid Temple
Photo Source: GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version.

The Maya were great builders and their architectural achievements span several thousand years. Many people compare their structures to those of the ancient Egyptians. Maya stepped pyramids are easy recognizable and are impeccably constructed. Why did they build these pyramids? It is thought that they felt that these were the closest places to heaven. Temples were mounted atop of these pyramids. Very rarely were burials even held in a Maya temple, even though thay have been found to have been burials in the pyramids themselves. There is something very mysterious about the Maya. Maybe it was their uncanny knowledge of mathematics, or their incredible stone buildings that were built so well that we would have a hard time building them that way today, or maybe it was their combination of science and brutality?

Statue Inca

Inca Statue
Photo Source: Stock.xching

The Inca were also great builders and the secrets of their construction methods have evaporated into time. Take the city of Machu Picchu also known as the lost city of the Incas. Its construction has baffled us, ever since it was discovered. It is not so much that they were able to build a city that startled us, but it is how they were able to build a city on top of a mountain. A city that used huge stone blocks in its construction. How could the Inca carry blocks weighing many tons to the top of this mountain in the first place, let alone lift them into place during the construction? As we know, the Incas were also a brutal people, it seems that in this area of the world you had to be, to survive. The Inca also had an incredible farming system and when the Spanish defeated the Inca, they worked the surviving Inca to death on the farms.

Inca City

Machu-Pichu, Inca City
Photo Source: Photo Source: Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5

What drove all these ancient people to build these huge monuments and cities? Was it some sort of tribute to their gods? How did they learn how to make such technologically perfect buildings? Were they built by slaves or built by the common man, who was directed by the architects? One would have thought that these people would have all been needed in the fields to produce enough food for the community, but apparently both societies were so proficient at irrigation and growing that this was not necessary. Speaking about irrigation, I read an article recently that stated that a new irrigation system from either the Maya or Inca was spotted by a plane from the air, and it was so efficient that it is being adopted for modern farming purposes.

Stone Wall Inca

Inca Stone Wall
Photo Source: Stock.xching

I think that we are all fascinated to some extent, with both these races. It is the same kind of fascination that we have for the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. Will we ever find out how those huge stones were moved? I can't say, but I certainly hope so. One last note, notice how much more crude the construction of the Inca wall above is, compared to the Mayan pyramid, located three photos above.