WHAT IS EL NINO?
It is a phenomenon or event of climatic origin related to the warming of the eastern equatorial Pacific, which erratically cycles between three to eight years. It consists of a warming phase in the equatorial Pacific climate pattern. In the Southern Oscillation (ENSO), where the cooling phase is, it’s called La Niña. This phenomenon, in its most intense form, wreaks havoc on the Pacific coastal region of South America and the Andes Mountains, producing heavy rains followed by a drought on the Peruvian coast. The El Niño phenomenon is the cause of multiple climatic anomalies in the world.
El Niño was in Peru before the Incas. Its presence on the northern coast is at least 15,000 years old. Several studies indicate its frequency has increased since 5,000 B.C., which is about 7,000 years ago. Civilizations before the Incas suffered on many occasions from its effects. So much so, that many chose a nomadic lifestyle in other parts of Peru. Archaeological evidence shows the remains of abandoned homes among civilizations before the Incas.
Many civilizations could not face the extreme conditions that this produced, causing half of their population to die off.
HOW DID THE INCAS DEAL WITH EL NIÑO?
When the Incas came across a new people group, they did so in a peaceful way. Seeking to learn any techniques developed by this new group, they saw how it could improve the Inca Empire. One example is the work they developed with metals from the Chimu civilization. They even advanced the methods from the Chimu and designed items from gold, copper, silver, and tin. However, civilizations before the Incas didn't have the technology to deal with this weather phenomenon.
The Incas created a system of food storage throughout the Inca Empire that was over 2 million square kilometers as a system of stores known as Qollpas Located on every dairy farm and central city, food was stored in these warehouses. Garbage or waste was not a concept to the Inca, so nothing went to waste. Everything was properly stored and accounted for with a complex system of accounts known as Khipu (a system using numbers and wool knots).
WHEN THE INCA PRIESTS COULD PREDICT WHEN EL NINO WOULD COME?
They changed from focusing 100% on agricultural production to working on distributing the stored produce to feed the Inca Population. The portions of food were very well measured since it had to feed a population of 16 million people.
HOW DID THE INCAS KNOW WHEN EL NINO WOULD OCCUR?
To better understand this question, we have to go into the topic of the Inca religion. For the Incas, religion, and science always went together. They credited every meteorological and natural phenomenon to the forces of the mystical gods who were the only ones who had control over nature and were the only ones who could warn them about important events before they happened.
It all starts with the red seashells located on the warm coast . Since the time of the Valdivia culture in Ecuador, it is believed the Spondylus mollusks abandoned their habitat in deep water just in time for the rainy season. During this time, entire colonies emerged on the surface of the Pacific and believed to be a divine sign. Therefore, they considered it a messenger of the gods to communicate back and forth. The Valdivian priests also knew that