Alpaca History – Chapter One: Ancient History

Alpaca History

Chapter One: Ancient History

The history of alpacas begins in South America. There is evidence that alpacas were domesticated as much as 6000 years ago. Around 3000-4000 B.C., the Guanaco hunters had successfully created two new races of animals; the llama, and the alpaca. Where llamas were used as a means of transportation and communication, alpacas were used for garments (fiber), fertilizer, and fuel. The alpacas finest fibers were considered of such great value that they were only used by Inca royalty, and known as “fiber of the gods”.

The ancient Incan economy was based on textiles, not gold. As weavers, the Incas valued their alpacas fiber. The alpaca is associated with the goddess Pachmana, the earth mother in Andean mythology. It was believed that all alpacas were here on loan to humans, to be left on this earth only as long as they were respected and well cared for by us. According to legend, alpacas were given as a gift at the mountain Ausangate in Peru.

When the Spaniards invaded Peru in 1532 led by Francisco Pizarro, he had heard tales of the Inca people who lived there and their incredible hoards of gold and silver. It was also said that the Incan temples were ablaze with precious ornaments, gemstones, and statues, and that the Emperor’s palace walls were lined with gold.
Upon arriving, Pizarro murdered the guards who protected the powerful Inca Emperor Atahualpa, and took the Emperor prisoner. Pizarro then demanded a huge ransom in gold, which the Incas paid. Pizarro then murdered the prisoner anyway.

The Incas once ruled a vast part of South America, stretching from Columbia to Chile, but Pizarro brought that to an end. He destroyed the Inca civilization, and slaughtered alpacas by the millions. This brought them to the brink of extinction, if it weren’t for the few alpacas that were saved by driving them from their populated cities to the Altiplano, a hidden highland sanctuary of more than 14,000 feet elevation.

In 1533, an army of Incas, 5000 strong, moved to a more remote area, and held out against the invaders protecting the alpacas for nearly 40 years.

Francisco Pizarro was finally murdered by a group of Chillenos led by Juan de Rada. The war of Chupus then broke out.