290 Speaker Series: Experience and Transformation in an Imperial Capital

Lecture | March 13 | 2-4 p.m. | Kroeber Hall, Gifford Room

 Alexei Vranich

 Department of Anthropology

The aerial photograph of the World Heritage city of Cusco, Peru reveals a regular geometric distribution of city blocks in the middle of the city. Generations of architects, archaeologists and historians have correlated the present geometry of the city with the distribution of the major pre-Columbian Inca compounds, streets and open spaces. Furthermore, a number of intensive architectural surveys of the city have been carried out, including several recent efforts; and, as a result, nearly all the standing architecture has been recorded in one form or another. Notwithstanding, "the fact that several alternative models of the former Inca capital can be derived from largely the same data sources" is evidence that "our understanding of the Inca capital is fragmentary at best" (Bauer 2004: 211). As a consequence, we need another approach to break this logjam. This paper, then, presents a methodological and theoretical redirection of the manner by which one could investigate and visualize the Inca city of Cusco.

Alexei Vranich received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and began working in South America in 1995 at the monumental form of the site of Tiwanaku, Bolivia. Now a Research Associate at ARF and the Assistant Dean at Bowles Hall Residential College, Alexei is continuing his research on the form and experience of pre-Columbian urbanism in Cusco, Peru, the former capital of the Inca Empire.