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The Archaeology of Inca Origins: A Study of Second Generation State Formation of the Andes

Gordon F. McEwan, Wagner College, Fellow 2007/08

During my residential fellowship at Dumbarton Oaks I have made major progress in research for my book on the origins of the Incas of Peru. My project specifically involves comparing the sixteenth century Spanish chronicles, legal documents, and Inca oral histories to the archaeological evidence that I have excavated at the ancient town of Chokepukio near the Inca capital city of Cuzco during the past 25 years. Being here at the library has allowed me to consult all of the major Spanish sources in a timely and convenient manner. I have also located some surprising new information of an historical nature regarding the site of my excavations. Buried in a land tenure lawsuit is an oral history of the last few years before the Spanish invasion. This is casting invaluable new light on my interpretations of my archaeological data sets. My immersion here in the original sources has allowed me to bring the late pre-Inca historical period into a new focus that permits a much clearer understanding of the events and processes leading up to the beginning of the Inca Empire.

So far I have been able to develop a complete outline for the Inca book and have begun writing several chapters. I have also completed a chapter that is a condensed version of the same topic as the book that will be included in an edited volume resulting from a symposium held last year at the annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

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