Newsletter

The Chachapoya culture was located in the part of Peru where the highlands of the Andes meet the Amazonian jungles. There are jungles here 3,500 meters above sea level and many large navigable rivers. Chachapoya culture originally developed around 750 CE and there were major urban centers, like the great fortress of Kuelap, with remnants of hundreds of buildings and massive stone walls. Only some five percent of the archeological sites of the Chachapoya have been excavated. They were conquered by the Incas shortly before the arrival of the Europeans in the 1520s. Since they were treated harshly by the Incas, the Chachapoya sided with the European conquerors.

In the first scenes of the film Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones searches the booby-trapped ruins of a Chachapoyan temple for a golden idol.


The Chimor kingdom was established around 900 CE and it was the last Peruvian kingdom to resist the Incas, defeated by the Inca emperor Topa Inca Yupanqui in 1470.  The kingdom of Chimor was not located in the highlands of Peru but instead in the narrow strip of coastland, much of it desert, along the Pacific Ocean. Chimor society was sharply hierarchical and divided into four social classes. People survived thanks to fishing and thanks to the irrigation systems they built which made agriculture possible. They worshiped the moon, not the sun, like the Incas. The Chimor kingdom has left remnants in the form of black ceramics, are known for their exquisite metalwork and for the textiles spun from alpaca wool. The capital of Chan Chan was a great center for artisans and craftsmen.

Primary sources:

  • Garcilaso de la Vega, Royal Commentaries of Peru

    Garcilaso de la Vega, Royal Commentaries of Peru

    Garcilaso de la Vega, the first native of the New World to attain importance as a writer in the Old, was born in Cuzco in 1539, the illegitimate son of a Spanish cavalier and an Inca princess. Although he was educated as a gentleman of Spain and won an important place in Spanish letters, Garcilaso was fiercely proud of his Indian ancestry and wrote under the name EI Inca. Read More
  • Cracking the Mayan code

    Cracking the Mayan code

    The Mayan script, also known as Mayan glyphs or Mayan hieroglyphs, is the writing system of the Maya civilization of Mesoamerica, currently the only Mesoamerican writing system that has been substantially deciphered. The earliest inscriptions found which are identifiably Maya date to the 3rd century BCE in San Bartolo, Guatemala. Maya writing was in continuous use throughout Mesoamerica until the Spanish conquest of the Maya in the 16th and 17th centuries. Read More
  • Aztec codices

    Aztec codices

    Aztec codices are books written by pre-Columbian and colonial-era Aztecs. These codices provide some of the best primary sources for Aztec culture. The pre-Columbian codices mostly do not in fact use the codex form (that of a modern paperback) and are, or originally were, long folded sheets. They also differ from European books in that they mostly consist of images and pictograms; they were not meant to symbolize spoken or written narratives. Read More
  • Maya codices

    Maya codices

    Maya codice sare folding books stemming from the pre-Columbian Maya civilization, written in Maya hieroglyphic script on Mesoamerican bark cloth, made from the inner bark of certain trees, the main being the wild fig tree or amate. The codices have been named for the cities where they eventually settled. The Dresden codex is generally considered the most important of the few that survive. Read More
  • Guaman Poma

    Guaman Poma

    Felipe Huaman Poma de Ayala, 1535– 1616, was a Quechua nobleman known for chronicling and denouncing the ill treatment of the natives of the Andes by the Spanish after their conquest. Today, Guaman Poma is noted for his illustrated chronicle, Nueva Corónica y Buen Gobierno. Read More
  • Edward Kingsborough, Antiquities of Mexico, 1831

    Edward Kingsborough, Antiquities of Mexico, 1831

    Edward King, Viscount Kingsborough, was an Irish antiquarian who sought to prove that the indigenous peoples of the Americas were a Lost Tribe of Israel. His principal contribution was in making available facsimiles of ancient documents and some of the earliest explorers' reports on Pre-Columbian ruins and Maya civilisation. Several of these volumes are available at Internet Archive. Read More
  • American Institute for the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Artifacts

    American Institute for the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Artifacts

    Felipe Huaman Poma de Ayala, 1535– 1616, was a Quechua nobleman known for chronicling and denouncing the ill treatment of the natives of the Andes by the Spanish after their conquest. Today, Guaman Poma is noted for his illustrated chronicle, Nueva Corónica y Buen Gobierno. Read More
  • 1

Conquistadors:

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

 

european_expansion_head.png

  • How and why did the Europeans come to take over the world?
  • How did the colonized peoples make themselves independent?
  • What were the logn-term effects of colonialization?

Required reading:

Presentations:

  • What was the Mau-mau uprising?
  • Who was Henry Morton Stanley? Presentation by hilip Norrman.
  • How does William Robruck describe the emperor’s palace? How did Coleridge describe it? Read this. Presentation byNoemibernadette Zampetti.

Additional resources:

 Lecture:

  • Why and how did the Mongols come to create an empire which spanned most of the Eurasian continent? What made the Mongols militarily successful?
  • How was Mongol diplomacy conducted?
  • Why did the Mongol empire eventually decline and fall?
  • “Nomadic political theory“: tactics in war. principles of social organization, the role of paths and nodes.

Required readings:

  • Erik Ringmar,”The Mongol Khanates,” History of International Relations (Cambridge: Open Books Publisher, forthcoming)
  • Starr, S. Frederick. “The Mongol Century.” In Lost Enlightenment : Central Asia’s Golden Age from the Arab Conquest to Tamerlane, 436–37. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2013.
  • Schurmann, H. F. “Mongolian ​Tributary Practices of the Thirteenth Century.” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 19, no. 3/4 (December 1956): 304-89.

Presentations:

​Additional resources:

Lecture:

  • Which kinds of political entities have traditionally existed in Africa?
  • Which were the relations between them?
  • To what extent, if any, can Africa be described as “an international system”?

Readings:

Nubia:

West Africa: