The Inka Empire and Its Andean Origins

The exquisite remains of the most extensive empire the world has yet known present the modern scholar with a number of riddles and the allure of a rich and largely unexplored field of study. For the curious layperson, THE INKA EMPIRE AND ITS ANDEAN ORIGINS offers a survey of what is known of the Inkas and their predecessors and a well-researched discussion of how it came to be known.

After the crossing from Siberia to North America, human settlements moved as far south as Patagonia. The oldest known evidence of human habitation has been dated to 9,000 B.C., though it is commonly believed that humans arrived in South America much earlier than this. It is likely that the monumental architecture of the Andes, erected five thousand years ago, is the oldest in the Americas. The pyramids of Egypt are of no greater antiquity than the pyramids of the Preceramic peoples of this region. On the arid Pampa, gigantic two-thousand-year-old line drawings are still clearly visible from the air, puzzling scientists and provoking fantastic speculation. Sophisticated in its arts and crafts, its architecture and masonry, its textiles, its agriculture, its religion, and its rule, the Inka empire stretched along the western coast of South America and vanished with the arrival of a younger, though no less ambitious civilization. It left its traces in the journals of Spanish priests, in its forgotten cities, and in the ordinary lives of the descendants of its most ordinary citizens.

Craig Morris, a Cornell University professor and authority on South American archeology and anthropology, has joined with Adriana von Hagen, a journalist with expertise in archeology, in writing the text for this beautifully bound Abbeville book. The specially commissioned photographs of John Bigelow Taylor do justice to the Andean artifact collection of the American Museum of Natural History Hall of South American Peoples.