In 1945 John Howland Rowe published his important revisionist theory of the chronology of Incaic imperialism, arguing that the Inca empire was the result of rapid, late conquests and not of slow accretion over a long time. This interpretation immediately won acceptance among scholars. It is challenged, in part, in the first of the two works by Wedin, who shows that Rowe’s evidence does not support all his statements and that the theory of late, rapid expansion, while plausible and possible, is thus incompletely demonstrated. With respect to dating, Wedin refuses to accept Rowe’s precise statement of years. Wedin stands on the strict position that the only secure date in the entire history of the Inca empire is 1532, the year in which Pizarro captured Atahualpa. Thus the negative side of Rowe’s hypothesis is presented; but it is worth noting that even in mustering all his forces Wedin does not revert to the pre-Rowe belief in the great antiquity of Inca imperialism.
In the second work Wedin accepts the military function of decimal divisions in Inca society but argues that there is no proof that they were applied to the civil organization. Civil application is not indicated in the preferred sources, and the civil organization was such that the decimal divisions would have served no purpose there. Along the way he criticizes the identification of ten thousand persons with the Incaic “province” and easts doubt upon the assumption of radical Indian depopulation in the postconquest sixteenth century. An instance of population increase is cited, as well as several instances of relatively slight decline. Wedin feels that the total depopulation was substantially less marked than would be indicated in the ratio of four to one postulated by Rowe for the period 1525-1571.