Ancient Cuzco: Heartland of the Inca

Ancient Cuzco: Heartland of the Inca

Ancient Cuzco: Heartland of the Inca

Ancient Cuzco: Heartland of the Inca

Synopsis

Undertakes the first general overview of the prehistory of the Cuzco region from the arrival of the first hunter-gatherers (ca. 7000 B.C.) to the fall of the Inca Empire in A.D. 1532 Combines archaeological survey and excavation data with historical records Drawing on the results of the Cuzco Valley Archaeological Project that Brian Bauer directed from 1994 to 2000, this landmark book undertakes the first general overview of the prehistory of the Cuzco region from the arrival of the first hunter-gatherers (ca. 7000 B.C.) to the fall of the Inca Empire in A.D. 1532. Combining archaeological survey and excavation data with historical records, the book addresses both the specific patterns of settlement in the Cuzco Valley and the larger processes of cultural development. With its wealth of new information, this book will become the baseline for research on the Inca and the Cuzco Valley for years to come.

Excerpt

The Inca empire was the largest state to develop in the Americas. Last in a series of complex Andean societies, it emerged in the south-central mountains of Peru, expanded across the western highlands and coast of South America, and ultimately encompassed a territory that stretched from modern-day Colombia to Chile. By the time of European contact in 1532, the Inca ruled a population of at least eight million from their capital city in the Cuzco Valley.

The Cuzco Valley was the sacred center of the empire and the royal seat of the dynastic order that ruled the realm. Despite the importance of the Cuzco Valley in the prehistory of the Americas, it has been one of the last great centers of civilization in the Americas to be systematically studied. As the heartland of the Inca, the Cuzco Valley has frequendy been discussed in the literature, and anthropologists, historians, and archaeologists have long speculated on the locations and importance of its numerous archaeological sites. Yet there has been a surprising lack of archaeological field research in the Cuzco Valley itself.

Until recently, there had been no attempt to systematically survey the Cuzco Valley or to document all of its archaeological sites. As a result, critical issues concerning the cultural history of the valley and the development of the Inca Empire have remained unexplored. Furthermore, we know little about the social complexity of groups that occupied the region before the Inca Empire developed and how the achievements of these earlier people helped to form the foundations upon which the Inca built their great state.

Witnessing the recent rapid urban growth of the city and realizing the need for a systematic regional survey of the Inca heartland, I began the Cuzco Valley Archaeological Project in 1994. the project was designed as a multistage regional study of the Inca heartland, dedicated to documenting and interpreting the distribution of its archaeological sites. the systematic documentation of site types, locations, sizes, and ages in the region has yielded new information on the ancient cultures of this important area. the overall objective of the project was to reconstruct the settlement history of the Cuzco Valley by combining the results of a systematic survey of the valley with data gathered from excavations at a number of sites and information recovered from various historic documents.

In this book I present the major results of that project and offer an overview of the cultural developments that occurred in the Cuzco Valley from the time of its first occupants, soon after the retreat of the Pleistocene glaciers, to the arrival of the Spaniards and the subsequent collapse of the Inca Empire. the goal of the book is to extend our knowledge of the area well beyond the generalized descriptions currently available for the prehistory of the region and to address a series of research questions concerning both the general processes of cultural development and the specific historic patterns of the region. in the first half of the book, I attempt to answer several basic questions: How has the climate of the region changed over time (Chapter 3)? When was the valley first occupied (Chapter 4)? How did settlement strategies change with the establishment of the first villages (Chap-

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