Tuesday, January 12, 2010

in the 'musings' catgegory

Today – for no reason I can recall – I was pondering what the archaeologists find, the conclusions they draw from their finds, and how every discipline relies on the other lot to provide them with the stuff they don’t ‘dig up’ (literally and figuratively) a s it were.

What we have been told is that the Incas organised and ran their Imperium with an iron fist and an exemplary bureaucracy, how they got rid of what they couldn’t subdue, like a huge big steamroller flattening the little pre-Inca tribes who had absolutely no way of standing up to this kind of onslaught, that they were baddies because they made human sacrifices and so on. They certainly were no choirboys and had absolutely no pity and whatever stood in their way was either absorbed or ‘disappeared’. (There really is nothing new under the son, is there?)

And so we just did more of the same. “The way of the world, survival of the fittest, that’s how things are...”

And then I found this:

“We found these kingdoms in such good order, and the said Incas governed them in such wise [manner] that throughout them there was not a thief, nor a vicious man, nor an adulteress, nor was a bad woman admitted among them, nor were there immoral people. The men had honest and useful occupations. The lands, forests, mines, pastures, houses and all kinds of products were regulated and distributed in such sort that each one knew his property without any other person seizing it or occupying it, nor were there law suits respecting it… the motive which obliges me to make this statement is the discharge of my conscience, as I find myself guilty. For we have destroyed by our evil example, the people who had such a government as was enjoyed by these natives. They were so free from the committal of crimes or excesses, as well men as women, that the Indian who had 100,000 pesos worth of gold or silver in his house, left it open merely placing a small stick against the door, as a sign that its master was out. With that, according to their custom, no one could enter or take anything that was there. When they saw that we put locks and keys on our doors, they supposed that it was from fear of them, that they might not kill us, but not because they believed that anyone would steal the property of another. So that when they found that we had thieves among us, and men who sought to make their daughters commit sin, they despised us.”

Written in Cuzco in 1589 by Don Mancio Serra de Leguisamo, the last survivor of the original conquerors of Peru, in the preamble of his will.

Perhaps that isn’t the whole truth either, but doesn’t it make you want to weep?

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