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date: 27 July 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The Incan city of Cuzco was an elongated triangle formed by the confluence of two rivers. At one end, enormous, zigzagging walls followed the contours of a steep hill. The walls were built with stone blocks weighing up to 100 tons and cut so precisely that no mortar was needed. The ruins of the walls were still visible after the Spanish siege of 1536 (as they are today), and they were a marvel to Garcilaso de la Vega, when he viewed them in the mid-sixteenth century. Garcilaso was born in 1539, the decade of the conquest of Peru, to a Spanish conqueror and a Native American princess, a second cousin of the last two Inca rulers. As a young man, Garcilaso left his native Peru never to return. Toward the end of his life he retired to a secluded Spanish village, where he wrote his general history of the Incas. He was particularly proud of the monumental achievements of his Incan relatives, and of the power that their construction projects represented.

Garcilaso de la Vega, Royal Commentaries of the Incas and General History of Peru, trans. Harold V. Livermore (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1966), vol. 1, 463–468.

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