Machu Picchu: Unveiling the Mystery of the Incas

Richard L. Burger, Editor, Lucy C. Salazar, Editor Yale University Press $65 (230p) ISBN 978-0-300-09763-4
Tied to a Yale-sponsored exhibition of Incan artifacts now traveling to several museums in America, this illustrated volume sheds new light on Machu Picchu, the mysterious Peruvian ruins that were rediscovered by the Yale Expedition of 1911. No""lost city"" of myth, Machu Picchu was actually a""kind of Inca 'Camp David'""--a royal country estate that was probably occupied by an Incan king briefly during the 15th century. In addition to reprinting Hiram Bingham's original 1913 account of the Expedition's journey, Burger and Salazar's volume presents several chapters in which modern archeologists describe the astounding scientific advances, the religious rituals and the daily life of Incas at Machu Picchu. (The book also includes a catalogue of the artifacts shown in the traveling exhibition.) Particularly fascinating is Susan Niles's overview of the many practices that Incan royal families used to conserve their status and resources, including the worship of mummified ancestors and the intermarriage of brothers and sisters. A final chapter by Jorge Flores Ochoa discusses modern-day issues in Peru--such as the successful attempt to make Machu Picchu a center for mystic tourism--and argues that President Fujimori's plan to build a cable car to the ruins""was designed to satisfy the interests of business managers"" while ignoring the interests of the local population. Although the writing in this volume can be dense with scientific terms, most of it is also quite engrossing, and readers who are interested in Machu Picchu will be enchanted by the book's many lovely photographs.
Reviewed on: 03/01/2004
Release date: 03/01/2004
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Paperback - 230 pages - 978-0-300-13645-6
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