Learning About a Lost Civilization
The Inca dynasty was founded by Marco Capac, son of the Sun, in Cuzco, Peru around 1200 AD. This grand civilization would eventually be crushed by the Spanish Conquest which started in 1532 AD. Archaeological discoveries revealed their astounding excellence as engineers and architects of imposing cities, massive buildings, colossal granite walls, paved roads, and agricultural terraces.
Two books that give insight into the Incan empire are Terence D'Albroy's beautifully illustrated book The Incas, offering clear insight into their advanced culture and supreme wisdom, and The Inca World by David Jones, which includes over 500 mystifying drawings and photographs.
Romancing the Incas
The magnificence and power of the Inca Empire has inspired authors Antoine Audouard, Jean-Daniel Baltassat and Bertrand Houette to write a series of three very popular romantic novels: La Princesa del Sol, El Oro de Cuzco, and La luz de Machu Picchu (English language versions are available through Link+). This story of the impossible love between a Spanish conqueror and an Inca Princess has a solid historical background and describes precisely the hierarchy, customs, and rituals of this civilization.
Visiting Machu Picchu Today
Hiram Bingham was the first archaeologist to work on the site, which was discovered in 1911 by farmers. Today, the sacred city of Machu Picchu is one of the most visited site in the world. The site is limited to 2,500 visitors per day, and reservations must be made well in advance!
The breathtaking beauty of this spectacular city constructed out of polished hard granite rock on the steep slopes of the Andes is now ranked among the New 7 Wonders of the World, and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
It is estimated that Emperor Pachacuti built this sacred city around 1450 AD. Its natural religious features made it a holy site for the Incas, who observed the movements of the sun, moon, and stars, and noticed how their trajectories lined up with the mountains during solstices and equinoxes.
Recommended Travel Guides
- Trekking in Peru by Hilary Bradt
- Guide to the Inca Trail by Richard Danbury
- Lonely Planet Peru
- Frommer's Peru
Listening to the Music of the Andes
The serenity and religious dedication of the Inca spirit is conveyed through the Quechua music of the Andes, ensuring continuity across generations. The haunting Andean music of the panpipes, drums, flutes and charrangos is still present among young performers.
SMCL has several CDs available:
- Kingdom of the Sun: The Inca Heritage
- Land of the Incas by Inkuyo
- El Condor Pasa: Spirit of the Incas: the Gold Collection
Photo credit: Denis Concordel
Jocelyne C. is an extra-help Library Assistant who works at different branches of SMCL. She recently visited Peru with her family, one of the most spectacular (and challenging, thanks to the altitude) trips they ever made.