The present volume, originally published in French in 1973, reports on the archaeological investigations conducted in the Mantaro and Vilca River drainages during the dry seasons of 1970-72. The area is identified as the territory of the fifteenth-century curacazgo of Asto, but nothing in the archaeology identifies a ceremonial or administrative center, or even indicates a differentiation of social hierarchy. Surface collections were made at many sites throughout the region, and although the report is vague about the number and location of actual excavations, four to six of the twenty-seven known Asto sites appear to have been dug.

The report provides a fair picture of subsistence-oriented rural settlements during the period just before or contemporary with the Inca empire. There is a cultural unity within the region, but the material remains are mostly so simple and generalized that they could probably be replicated throughout much of the central Andes.

Local subsistence depended on root crop cultivation at median altitudes (keshwar), and the herding of llamas and alpacas on the high-altitude puna. Crops were grown as high as 4250 meters, but climatic changes during the past 500 years have lowered the altitudinal limits to 3900 meters. High-altitude settlements were surrounded by a wall, suggested as a defensive work, but perhaps serving also as a corral for the animals. My examination of the map of Asto territory shows that mid-altitude settlements are often located near high-altitude ones, which suggests some sort of paired settlement pattern. Perhaps settlements exchanged agricultural and pastoral products; or the. remains may indicate a transhumant pattern of movement between agricultural and pastoral settlements, as still occurs on the eastern slopes of the Andes. Such would be consistent with the general Andean adaptive strategy of controlling and exploiting several adjacent ecological zones. Unfortunately, these questions are never raised by the authors, who treat each settlement as an independent entity.

The only organizational levels that are considered are the family and the ayllu. The complex of family clusters that makes up a settlement is presumed to constitute an ayllu. There is no consideration of how these settlements might have been integrated into a higher level of regional or state organization.

The study is interesting in giving insight into the nature of the common man’s life in highland Perú before the Spanish conquest, but it suffers from the same parochial view as do early peasant studies—it fails to consider the local community within the context of the larger state system. The area considered is one small geographic region in central Perú and thus may be of limited interest.