Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The AP Version of History

OK, I've got morning classes, but I can't let this bit of nonsense from the Associated Press pass without comment:

On this date: In 1533, the last Incan King of Peru, Atahualpa, was murdered on orders of Spanish conqueror Francisco Pizarro.
Um, well, not exactly. First of all, he was the emperor of Tawantinsuyu, otherwise known as the Incan Empire, which included a whole lot more than modern Peru. Further, he wasn't the last person to hold the title of Sapa Inca (official title of the emperors) - that honor goes to Tupac Amaru (the one who died in 1572 - not Tupac Amuru II, or, for that matter, Tupac Amaru Shakur). It's all a little complicated, more than I can go into right now, but the Spanish alternately propped up and fought against a series of heirs to Atahualpa before finishing off Tupac Amaru. Atahualpa represents the end of a truly sovereign, powerful Incan Empire, but he wasn’t the final end. History tends to be messier than that - AP's error is just one more piece of evidence that a "names and dates" concept of history is deeply flawed.

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