Starvation in the Inca Period | Why there was no starvation neither malnutrition back in the Inca Period? On the world there are seven geographical locations were the societies living in those areas were capable to domesticate plants and animals, and they learned about how to keep their crops or harvest for the months of shortage of food; The Andes is one of these locations where agriculture started 8000 years ago approx, mainly the Andes of Peru where the Ancient Peruvians were capable to overcome malnutrition and starvation even though the topography is not agricultural-friendly geography, then let´s get to the point, why there was not starvation neither malnutrition back in the Inca Period? Check it below and get yourself a little bit more informed about this social achievement made on the Creators of Potatoes: The Ancient Peruvians!
Thanks to the principles of reciprocity and re-distribution of the food among the ancient societies, they were able to keep their families out of famine; they have also developed advanced techniques to dry their food such as grains, vegetables and even meat to keep them for more years.
Note the Ancient Peruvians use to speak Quechua, the language is still spoken nowadays and indeed the terms “Famine or Starvation” do not exist in Quechua language.
Four Techniques to preserve food developed by Ancient Peruvians
Food Refrigeration in Qollcas
We have the dry and the wet season on the Andes and the “El Niño Fenomeno” on the coast of Peru, therefore the pre-Hispanic societies were aware of this weather issues and learnt about food preservation systems, one them is the usage of “Qolqas” which are ground floor, mud and stone constructions, with very thick walls, roofed with straw, efficient buildings designed to keep cool temperatures to store the food for even years, food like grains, vegetable and meat(Alpaca and Llama), note that the Qolcas were built by using volcanic stones, this causes a natural process known as Evapotranspiration which keeps these buildings without humidity.
“Chuños” Dehydration under freezing weather!
One of the very unique techniques innovated by the indigenous people on the Andes is the dehydration of potatoes under freezing temperatures, this process still takes place on some rural areas on the Andes where locals wake up early in the morning like 4 am to start the process and the on the same day they start to dry them out in the sunshine. Once you have the final process the dehydrated potatoes can be kept for even 20 years!
“Charqui” Dehydration under heating weather!
The Indigenous human groups before the Spaniards were not just capable to domesticate animals but also keep the meat of this South American Camelids for many years. The process was very simple by just drying out under the sunshine and adding some salt. This type of meat can be used for both main courses and soups, the meat source used for this process is alpaca or llama and on the Andes and fish was used on the coast.
Dehydration of Fruits and Vegetables!
In the Inca Empire there was no a fast way of transportation system like carriages or horses, not even the wheel was implemented nevertheless theses societies had the principle of rotation but since the geography is mainly made out of mountains, it would have been useless to implement the wheel, who or what would it pull the carriage? Therefore mainly llamas were used for transportation and these animals don´t necessarily walk fast with the cargo on!
Therefore, the llama caravans would take a long time to get to their final destinations and whatever food they would transport to exchange had to be dry, not just the meat or fish but also fruits and vegetables like seaweeds. When the fruits or meats are completely dehydrated they are also lighter! Note that Llamas can only carry 30 kg.
An Indigenous Agricultural Society
Definitely, the Indigenous people living mainly on the coast and the Andes of Peru were great farmers simply because of their geography, where there weren’t many animals to hunt like in North America where the natives had ownership of hunting grounds where they would hunt antelopes, bison or caribous.
On the other hand, on the Andes 5000 years ago there some animals like vicuñas or guanacos, which later on were domesticated together with the guinea pigs. But these sources of food were not enough so they had to enhance their agricultural techniques and interbreed the seeds, fruits and more at different ecological locations, thus nowadays in Peru we have around 5000 varieties of potatoes, 400 types of corn, 3000 types of Quinoa, Quiwicha, Tarwi, Cañihua, Ollucos, Ocas, Uncuchas, Sashapapas, Maca, Llacon, etc.
They were also capapble to domesticate fruits, vegetables and seeds such as: Lucumas, Chirimoyas, Piñas, Peanuts, Pacaes, Avocados, Poroporos, Granadillas, Capuli, Noga, Noni, Airampo, Ahupalla, Chamburo, etc.
One picture is worthy than thousands words
Check the picture of the most famous seeds, fruits or eatable roots from the Andes:
The Original Blog was originally written in Spanish by the cool team of Peru Folklorico. They also write other cool historic topics that you will not find in Wikipedia!
Some of the Content above was enriched by the Team of Free Walking Tour Cusco!