Cusco: Urbanism and Archaeology in the Inka World

Cusco: Urbanism and Archaeology in the Inka World

Cusco: Urbanism and Archaeology in the Inka World

Cusco: Urbanism and Archaeology in the Inka World

Synopsis

An examination of the archaeological data on the Inka capital of Cusco through the lens of urban planning.

Excerpt

Cuzco, Peru, was the center of the Inka world, and along with Tenochtitlan, the Aztec imperial capital in contemporary Mexico, it was one of the two most important cities in the Americas just prior to the arrival of Europeans in the sixteenth century. Today, when one thinks of the Inka or the South American Andes, the spectacular site of Machu Picchu inevitably comes to mind. Machu Picchu was a local estate established by a pivotal Inca ruler known as Pachakuti. He and his retinue of engineers and architects established at least two other estates in the same “sacred valley” near Cuzco. Yet Cuzco—not Machu Picchu—was the center of the Inka Empire and culture.

Cuzco has received relatively little systematic archaeological coverage over the past century. Most studies dedicated to the center have focused on historical documentation of the city by early Spanish conquerors and administrators or native and mestizo writers. Very few studies have developed an intensive focus on Cuzco’s material archaeological record. The present volume seeks to rectify this situation. Ian Farrington, senior lecturer in archaeology at the Australian National University, has conducted research in the Andes for more than three decades. His approach to Cuzco meshes two analytical techniques: town plan analysis and urban archaeology. He develops a rich understanding of Inka urban planning, the interwoven functions of different sections of the city, and the social and symbolic dimensions of the city that were simultaneously transferred to a series of “new cuscos” that served as local imperial centers throughout the Andes. Farrington is the first to apply town plan analysis, a technique of the British “urban morphology” approach, to an ancient city in the New World. As such this book breaks new ground methodologically.

This book is the third in the series Ancient Cities of the New World. Books in this series provide accessible views of urban patterns in places where publication has not kept up with fieldwork and archival research. While the study of any past urban center can claim to be about ancient . . .

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