Before the Spanish conquest in the sixteenth century A.D., the Inka Empire stretched along the Pacific side of South America, all the way from Ecuador to northwest Argentina. Though today many Inka researchers focus on the imperial capital of Cuzco, Peru, and surrounding areas, ruins of Inka settlements abound throughout the vast territory of the former empire and offer many clues about how the empire was organized, managed, and defended. These outlying settlements, as well as those in the Cuzco area, form the basis for John Hyslop's detailed study Inka Settlement Planning.
Using extensive aerial photography and detailed site maps, Hyslop studies the design of several dozen settlements spread throughout the empire. In addition to describing their architecture and physical infrastructure, he gives special emphasis to the symbolic aspects of each site's design. Hyslop speculates that the settlement plans incorporate much iconography expressive of Inka ideas about the state, the cosmos, and relationships to non-Inka peoples—iconography perhaps only partially related to the activities that took place within the sites. And he argues that Inka planning concepts applied not only to buildings but also to natural features (stone outcrops, water sources, and horizons) and specialized landscaping (terracing).
Of interest to a wide readership in archaeology, architecture, urbanization, empire building, and Andean travel, Inka Settlement Planning charts one of Native America's greatest achievements.
". . . a very significant contribution to the field. It contains much new material on the many Inka settlements visited and mapped by the author; it reviews very well an enormous amount of older literature on specific settlements; and it integrates in an innovative way new work on Inka culture, social organization, and ideology."
—R. T. Zuidema, Professor of Anthropology, University of Illinois, Urbana, and author of Inca Civilization in Cuzco