The History of the Incas

The History of the Incas

The History of the Incas

The History of the Incas

Synopsis

The History of the Incasmay be the best description of Inca life and mythology to survive Spanish colonization of Peru. Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa, a well-educated sea captain and cosmographer of the viceroyalty, wrote the document in Cuzco, the capital of the Inca Empire, just forty years after the arrival of the first Spaniards. The royal sponsorship of the work guaranteed Sarmiento direct access to the highest Spanish officials in Cuzco. It allowed him to summon influential Incas, especially those who had witnessed the fall of the Empire. Sarmiento also traveled widely and interviewed numerous local lords (curacas), as well as surviving members of the royal Inca families. Once completed, in an unprecedented effort to establish the authenticity of the work, Sarmiento's manuscript was read, chapter by chapter, to forty-two indigenous authorities for commentary and correction.

The scholars behind this new edition (the first to be published in English since 1907) went to similarly great lengths in pursuit of accuracy. Translators Brian Bauer and Vania Smith used an early transcript and, in some instances, the original document to create the text. Bauer and Jean-Jacques Decoster's introduction lays bare the biases Sarmiento incorporated into his writing. It also theorizes what sources, in addition to his extensive interviews, Sarmiento relied upon to produce his history. Finally, more than sixty new illustrations enliven this historically invaluable document of life in the ancient Andes.

Excerpt

The goal of this translation is to introduce The History of the Incas “1572”, by Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa, to a broad range of individuals interested in the history of the Americas. Sarmiento de Gamboa's manuscript was written in the city of Cuzco, the former capital of the Inca Empire, at a time when the Inca Empire was still remembered by informants who had held important positions of power in it. As such, The History of the Incas is an invaluable source of information on the last and largest empire to develop in the indigenous Americas. Inspired by other recent translations of writers such as BernabéCobo (1979,1990), Juan deBetanzos (1996), Pedro deCieza deLeón (1998), José de Acosta (2002), and Tito Cusi Yupanqui (2005), we hope that this work will encourage others to explore and understand the Andean past.

During this project we worked primarily with Richard Pietschmann's 1906 transcription of Sarmiento de Gamboa's work, although occasionally we consulted our microfilm of the original document. After the second draft of this translation was completed, we compared it with that done by Clements R. Markham in 1907 and made changes where we felt appropriate. While we have tried to remain true to Sarmiento de Gamboa throughout this translation, we have taken certain liberties to make his document more accessible to a wide readership, particularly to nonspecialists in Andean studies. For example, we have divided many of his excessively long sentences into shorter, more comprehensible lengths, and we have added punctuation where it lends clarity to the text. We have also removed many of the words that Sarmiento de Gamboa habitually uses to begin sentences (And, Therefore, Thus, So, This, etc.). In other sentences we have made grammatical changes, correcting tenses, plurals, and the like. In far fewer places, we have added a word or two to rectify an ambiguous sentence or to clarify confusing pronouns. In a very limited number of cases, we have removed a redundant word to help clarify the meaning of the sentence. As this work is intended for a general readership, we have also attempted . . .

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