Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Odyssey: the Inca Empire

from the book log (1/16/89):

ODYSSEY. A regular TV series made circa 1980. This episode about the Inca Empire.

Potentially dynamic information and locales exhibited in the typical dry, overawed, museum tones of the archeological documentary. Some fascinating stuff. The knotted ropes that recorded the huge civilization’s holdings and transactions, the long, well-maintained roads, the system of labor tax whereby each person worked for the government, whether building road or city or agriculture or textile making on a rotating basis, the arrangement of agriculture to best advantage, taking into account native plants & animals and using as assets their adaptations to specific habitats. These Andean people used a method of freeze-drying that effectively preserved food for years. The cities were not occupied with resident populations but with people doing their labor taxes, consequently the toppling of organization with the coming of the Spaniards emptied many of the cities rapidly.

I found the pre-Columbian American empires of the Incas and the Aztecs fascinating (well, I was a bit skittish about the Aztecs what with the scary heart-cutting-out sacrifice stuff). Exploring these civilizations was part of why I chose Latin American Studies as my major at UC Berkeley.

A 9-minute preview:

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