2019-08-08 The Inca

@zatnosk was asking about civilizations without boats. I suggested the Inca. As far as I know they might have had some boats, but theirs was a mountainous empire with excellent roads. Sure, they had big lakes, and they fished from boats. But did they have maritime trade like we had it in the Mediterranean Sea, for example?

The In Our Time podcast episode on the Inca I recently heard did not feature any of it. Instead, more importance was placed on the vertical archipelago concept. People were basically self-sufficient and exchanged goods up and down the mountain based on family relationship. So you had maize growing family at the bottom of the valley and had a right to some of it, as far as I understood it.

I did find a 3 page PDF on trade routes before Columbus which mentions “the large trading canoes of the Putun Maya”, though. Interesting. But the Inca are not the Maya, of course.



@dgold replied, saying that the Inca had outsourced their ocean trading!

To be a little more specific, the Inca outsourced their Ocean Trading to the Chincha People, who had been established as Ocean traders since round about the start of the Late Intermediate Period (so c. 900 CE). They were absorbed into the Inca Empire in around 1450 CE, but, unlike so many of the other neighbouring civs, their Kingdom enjoyed some independence in the Inca System, probably due to their status as traders and boatbuilders.

Very cool.

– Alex Schroeder 2019-08-08 22:36 UTC

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