Books : reviews

Craig Morris, Adriana von Hagen.
The Incas.
Thames & Hudson. 2011

The Incas emerged in the fourteenth century to build one of the largest empires of the ancient world. At its zenith Tawantinsuyu – ‘The Fourfold Domain’ – extended northwards from the Inca capital Cusco along the spine of the Andes to embrace parts of modern Peru and Ecuador, and southwards into Bolivia, Chile and Argentina. The sheer scale of the empire the Incas controlled - coupled with the challenges of the varied and rugged landscape - makes their achievement truly remarkable.

This new survey provides the most up-to-date and authoritative account available of the ascendancy of the Incas, their politics, economics, religion, architecture, art and technology. Uniquely, the authors look in detail at the capital Cusco and at the four parts of the empire, following the vast road system to explore not just famous sites such as Machu Picchu, but all the major regional settlements, many of them straddling Inca roads. What emerges is a vivid portrait showing how the Incas ruled some peoples directly but allowed others to maintain their traditional leaders with little interference. The concluding chapter is devoted to the end of the empire: the arrival of the Spaniards, the assassination of the Inca ruler Atawallpa, and the final years of the rebellious neo-Inca state in the tropical forest of Vilcabamba.

From finely fitted stonework to superbly engineered mountain terraces, from stunning textiles to brilliant metalwork in gold, silver and bronze, the Inca achievement is fully celebrated in these pages.