The ways of the land and of men change very slowly. Watching the people in a Peruvian highland village today, you can see many faces that resemble those carved in ancient stone and molded in clay. In the towns there are many people of Spanish descent and still more who are cholos – a mixture of Indian and Spanish - but in the villages the majority of the people are still Indian. They make up more than 60% of the population.

The Inca Indian, like the average Peruvian farmer today, did not want to leave his Inca village. He came to town to trade, to attend festivals, and to see the sights, but he regards the town as a noisy, hustling place and was always glad to get back to the familiar, to the quiet and peace of his Inca village.

The size of a village usually depends on its location. High up in the mountains, where the land was poor and rocky, a family or two might live alone in their huts, in the midst of their fields, Sometimes an Inca village was built up in two sections with fields in the center and a few homes at either end. In the valleys, however, where the land was more fertile and able to support a greater number of farmers, the villages were larger.

A man chose as the site for his home a place where sometimes good or fortunate had happened to him. The Inca called such a place a Huaca. Perhaps a mountain ridge or a ledge of a particular shape inspired a feeling of awe and so became Huaca to him.

Nothing was too small or too steep to build a hut on. Provided that water was nearby or could be brought in artificially in a man-made aqueduct. In time the area around the house was leveled and built with boulders to make a terrace. This provided room for another hut, which could house a newly married son or brother. Since farming land was so precious, the sited for the huts were usually on a barren, steep ground which was unsuitable for farming. As a village grew, people crowded their huts together until the village became a jumble of houses, corrals, pens and patios. Paths between houses were very narrow – just wide enough for a man and his burden or a llama with a pack on its back.

When a hut crumbled with age, the owner’s heir’s built another but atop the old foundations, and after several generations a village tended to rise many feet above its original site. Archeologists find the remains of generations of householders in these abandoned village sites: pottery fragments, pieces of leather and cloth, old toys, stone tools, knives, animal bones, corncobs, gourds, and human burials. Skillfully interpreted, these become a history book for the archeologist to read, and, in turn, to interpret to us. Thus we are unable to learn something of the lives of these people, who had no written history.


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