Essay: Wari and Tiwanaku Empires

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Wari and Tiwanku - the Definition of Empire

The word empire has many implications. Immediately, the word conjures images of the Roman, Inca, and Aztec civilizations, their extreme rulers, great landmasses, and thriving civilizations, as well as their disastrous decline. A glimpse at these empires allows one to conjure a greater understanding of what an empire actually is. Probably the most famous of all empires is the Roman. Surprisingly, however, the Romans began not as an impressive series of emperors with advanced construction and planning, but instead as a conglomeration of impoverished peoples crammed into hovels (G. And Smiley, 2005: 8). In fact, the Romans depended on their predecessors the Etruscans to give them the knowledge they needed to build the sprawling, powerful empire that would take up so much room in the history books. Among the information granted to the Romans from the Etruscans was literacy and the alphabet, as well as the architecture that would eventually distinguish Rome from its contemporaries (G. And Smiley, 2005: 8-9). Rome's move from hut-dwelling illiterates to Mediterranean power also came with the building up and use of military power, such as the army and the navy. Paired with a rebirth of military intelligence and new military technologies, these developments were able to lead Rome to its height as an empire (G. And Smiley, 2005: 9). Thus, the example of Rome epitomizes the cliche, "Rome was not built in a day." Indeed, the example of the Roman Empire suggests that empires take careful planning and many years of development before they can be called empires. This example also suggests that empires are also characterized by their military might, as well as their socio-political effectiveness.

Unlike the Romans, the Incas did not have a sophisticated system of writing. They did, however, have a form of recordkeeping and organization through quipus. These strings of ropes with knots on the end could not be interpreted by archeologists, but obviously helped the Incas achieve a system of reliable organization ("The Rise of the Incas"116). Like the Roman emperors, the Incan empire was filled with rulers who were sometimes mixed with legendary hero. Regardless of this, however, they proved their ability to defend their empire against foreign attack. In addition to this, they embarked on monumental conquest and oversaw the completion of magnificent architecture ("The Rise of the Incas" 120-121). As political rulers, the Incas were also able to establish a system of rule in which they could distribute labor, and they showed an ability to expand their kingdoms via conquest ("The Rise if the Incas" 122-123). Like the Romans and the Incas, the Aztec empire also exhibited a mix of political and military strength. A powerful alliance allowed for regional conquest. The empire was organized in a conglomeration of city-states. Conquered cities were expected to pay tributes to the Aztec empire. Unlike the Roman and Incan empires, however, which were organized, for the most part, under a single ruler, the Aztec empire was organized in a more economic fashion. That is, city-states were allowed to keep… [END OF PREVIEW]

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