The Inca created the most extensive empire that ever existed in indigenous ancient America. Called Tiwantinsuyu or “Land of the Four Quarters,” the empire’s road system has been compared to that of ancient Rome. Its magnificent art and architecture drew inspiration from earlier Andean civilizations.
Set high in the Peruvian Andes, Machu Picchu, built by the Inca around 1450, is one of the most spectacular archaeological sites in the world. Designated a Peruvian Historical Sanctuary and UNESCO World Heritage Site, Machu Picchu embodies archaeological and historical importance, mythic and symbolic significance, and a myriad of contemporary political and cultural issues. But the reasons why it was built remain unclear.
Looking through the lenses of geography, history, art, and archaeology, cultural historian George Scheper explores the Inca civilization from its beginnings to the Spanish conquest in the 16th century, with a special focus on Machu Picchu.
Scheper is senior lecturer in Advanced Academic Programs at Johns Hopkins University and former director of the Odyssey Lifelong Learning Program.
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