Initialed notices were written by members of the editorial staff.
Since its exciting discovery in 1911 by Bingham, Machu Picchu and its splendor have been the subject of a good deal of writing, due largely to the effective unity between its natural setting of cloud-covered granite peaks rising above the Río Urubamba and magnificent artificial landscape of orderly agricultural terraces and standing structures, many in the superb Inca Cuzco masonry style. The most controversial aspect of Machu Picchu has been its function. Bingham considered it the legendary Vilcabamba, the last and long-lost Inca refuge, although subsequent documentary analyses and field explorations indicate that the site of Espíritu Pampa located lower in the jungle is more likely to have been Vilcabamba. Current excavations at Machu Picchu clearly show colonial occupation, a point Bingham explained away as insignificant because of his convictions about Vilcabamba. We now know that ceremonial and religious considerations played a critical role in Inca settlement shape and location, and that Machu Picchu may have been an important centro sagrado, as L. Valcárcel has argued. The book has definite historical value, as well as detailed architectural/artifactual data and a fascinating account of the discovery of Machu Picchu.