The Inca were master builders and superb architects. Construction of new towns and cities, such as the imperial complex of Ollantaytambo, was underwritten by a political economy that elaborated warehouses on a truly monumental scale. Stately warehouses were constructed for purposes of mass storage of agricultural produce and other products generated by corvée labor taxation. In turn, the laborers on state construction projects were fed from imperial stores.

The storehouses, called qollqa, were generally one-room structures with sophisticated ventilation, erected in rows on hillsides. More than ten thousand qollqa were built in different areas of the Inca realm. Their archaeological investigation provides a wealth of economic information, much of which is admirably assembled in the 11 essays in Terry LeVine’s book. The contributors make extensive use of ethnohistorical sources to complement archaeological studies of qollqa in a number of highland areas. The editor’s introductory overview is the first of the book’s five parts. The second, “The Broad Perspective,” comprises a theoretical discussion of the Inca political economy by Timothy Earle and Terence D’Altroy, an overview of imperial storage and infrastructure by James Snead, and a comparison of storage in three highland regions by LeVine. The third part consists of three case studies of storage facilities by Craig Morris, D’Altroy and Earle, and John Topic and Coreen Chriswell. Part 4, “Analysis of Storage Structures,” focuses on qollqa content with contributions by Morris, D’Altroy and Christine Hastorf, and Heidi Lennstrom and Hastorf. The concluding part, “Comments and Suggestions for Future Research,” is by Earle. Because all the contributions use the function of storage to elucidate political economy and imperial administration, this volume is important to Andeanists and relevant to students of archaic states in general.

While storehouses were built to serve the functioning economy and its laborers, the Inca also constructed impressive facilities to accommodate the elite. Jean-Pierre Protzen, a professor of architecture, has spent a decade fruitfully investigating the complex of Ollantaytambo, some 70 kilometers northwest of Cuzco. This well-preserved group of buildings embraces more than 10 square kilometers of mountain valley that was sculpted to hold opulent facilities for an elite few with an entourage of perhaps two thousand. This is a world-class monument that invites comparison with Versailles, because colonial sources indicate that Ollantaytambo was designed as the private estate and an imperial retreat of the great potentate Pachakuti, who ruled a far larger dominion than that of Louis XIV.

Prodigious labor was expended on large-scale terracing and irrigation to transform the vast countryside into an agrarian parkland replete with walled roads, masonry bridges, storehouses, and defensive strongholds. To provide an emperor and his retainers with recreational facilities, sumptuous housing, and elegant temples, master stonemasons worked with the finest rock, often laboriously hauled from distant quarries. Residential quarters were geometrically arranged in blocks bounded by parallel paved streets. On an adjacent mountainside, an imposing fortified temple crowned the regal complex. A great-grandson of the estate’s founder later used Ollantaytambo as the command post for remnants of the Inca courts bent on driving the Spanish from Cuzco, and this volume makes rich use of early accounts of the town.

Protzen’s study is in many ways the most comprehensive architectural analysis available of an imperial Inca complex because his investigations proceeded from the ground up. His field studies began with pioneering investigations of the Ollantaytambo quarries and Inca stonecutting techniques; then he addressed the transportation, dressing, and laying of masonry, which varied with design, intent, and function. This book has three sections: “The Site and Its Architecture,” Construction Techniques,” and “Construction Episodes,” plus an appendix on local qollqa. Well written, it is also handsomely illustrated in a large format with excellent maps, original drawings, architectural reconstructions, and black-and-white photographs. Beyond its broad interest to archaeologists, anthropologists, and ethnohistorians, this first-rate contribution will appeal to architects, engineers, and general readers.