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Inka Settlement Planning

Inka Settlement Planning

A study of Inka settlements throughout the vast territory of the former empire.

January 1990
This is a print-on-demand title. Expedited shipping is not available.
393 pages | 6 x 9 | 133 b&w photos, 61 line drawings, 9 maps |

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.


  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments
  • 1. Introduction
    • Distribution of Planned Inka Settlements
    • Characteristics of Inka Architecture
    • Fine Masonry
    • Kancha
    • Kallanka
    • Origins of Inka Architecture
    • Chronological Considerations during the Inka Period
    • The Evidence for Planning
  • 2. Cuzco
    • Preimperial Cuzco
    • The Rebuilding of Cuzco
    • The Location
    • The Central Sector
    • The Intermediate Zone
    • The Surrounding Districts
    • Beyond the Ring of Districts
    • Saqsawaman
    • The Roads of Cuzco
    • Astronomical Towers
    • The Population of Cuzco
    • The Zeque System
  • 3. The Center
    • Ushnu Defined
    • The Ushnu Platform as a State Symbol
    • The Origin of Ushnu
    • The Distribution and Appearance of Ushnu
    • Ushnu Platforms within Plazas
    • The Centrality of Ushnu
    • Summary
  • 4. Rocks and Outcrops
    • Carved or Uncarved
    • Historical Evidence for the Symbolic Content of Stones
    • Sacred Stones in Cuzco
    • Stones and Architecture in the Cuzco Area
    • Important Stones Removed from but Part of Settlements
    • Important Boulders and Outcrops throughout Tawantinsuyu
    • Settlements without Important Stones
    • Stone as a Criterion for Settlement Location
    • Stones and Site Design
    • Summary
  • 5. Water
    • Utilitarian Water Management
    • Baths and Fountains
    • Fine Water Systems in Cuzco-Area Sites
    • Water Systems throughout Tawantinsuyu
    • Water and the Social Structure of Settlements
    • Summary
  • 6. Military Settlements
    • Inka Warfare
    • Resettlement as a Military and Governing Strategy
    • Identifying Military Architecture
    • The Distribution of Military Settlements
    • Small Forts and Outposts
    • Large Military Sites
    • Summary
  • 7. Orthogonal and Radial Patterns
    • The Spanish Grid
    • Inka Orthogonal Plans
    • Radial Patterns and Centrality
    • Huánuco Pampa’s Design Interpreted
    • Summary
  • 8. Orientation and Alignment: Astronomical Concerns
    • Inka Astronomy
    • Astronomical Influence on Cuzco’s Design
    • Physical Evidence for Astronomical Towers beyond Cuzco
    • Windows, Light, and Shadow Casting at Machu Picchu
    • Astronomical Alignments at Inkawasi
    • The Shape and Orientation of Inka Plazas
    • Astronomical Alignments of Other Buildings and Compounds
    • Nonastronomical Alignments
    • The Orientation of Duality and Quadripartition
    • Summary
  • 9. Mixed Inka-Local Settlements
    • Residences of Local Lords and Elites
    • Areas with No Inka Architectural Planning
    • Inka Buildings within Local Towns and Cities
    • Summary
  • 10. Environmental Influences
    • Settlement Location
    • Locations of Administrative Centers
    • Remodeling the Landscape for Buildings and Plazas
    • Elaborate Agricultural Terracing
    • Summary
  • 11. Final Considerations
    • Research Objectives
    • Housing the Population of the Empire
    • The Role of Administrative Centers
    • The Royal Estates
    • A Sanctuary Pattern
    • Other Cuzcos
    • Variations in Inka Settlements
    • Settlements within the Context of Empire
  • Notes
  • Glossary
  • Bibliography
  • Index

John Hyslop (1945-1993) was a research fellow at the Institute of Andean Research in New York City and author of a related study, The Inka Road System.