This is the ultimate in Archeoloy and Ethnohistory on the Andean region (Peru, Chile, Bolivia, Argentina) that means on the Inca civilization. It is a common task undertaken by the « Instituto de Estudios Peruanos» and the Institute of Andean Research, in New York. It is also an honour to the most famous ethnohistorian of Peru, Maria Rostworovsky. What do we learn about this? First, the book is built on a cumulation of field reports, produced by Archeologists, as well as reports made by Ethnohistorians, which are followed by the stocktaking of their discussions. Second: one learns more, by reading the final pages, than all the -- I would say forensic -- support reports from the field. Third: the conclusions are full of ideology, something which builds a rather steep contrast with the punctillious description of the field work. As someone states in the end: ethnohistorians have to transform words (in the documents) in words ( both in the discussions and in the conclusions) whereas Archeologists have to transform pottery and fragments in words, and, then, words of Archeology, again, in words of History.What are the main points? Well, what mostly caught my eye was the following 1 - The so called «socialist Empire» which, once upon a time, the cold-war Historian Arnold Toynbee (one of the creators of the most recent and influential ideological synthesis of History) was not what ideologues really wanted to, in their sociological endeavours. The Inca came a long way, from a hunter-gatherer background, to incremental agricultural communities and, then, state enterprises, but they managed a high degree of pluralism, and even put into practiece what Toynbee praised, in his theory of Empires' rise and fall.They entertained a vague border, where alliances and conquest set different standards. So, there is no reason for calling the Inca Empire as any reason for a looming latin-american national socialism.2 -- Maria Rostworovsky (I hope that nobody comes up with any suggestion that she «must be jewish»...!) says that in Ethnohistory, especially if one has to resort to mithology, there are much more things in common among the andean cultures, that in Economics, where one is confronted to a wide variety of patterns.3 -- The ending is perhaps much ideological, though. Rostworovsky ventures that andean myths have an absence of the patriarch, or of the father-model. Andeans prefer myths where the relationship between mother and child, and brother and sister, are much more vivid than that one of the father, who either is absent, he has died, or has been slayed. She states that neither the universal prohibition of parricide nor incest are visible in andean myths. She adds that the isolation which andeans have experienced, for centuries long, cuts them off from the asian and european pathway, despite having been built on a harsh struggle against deserts, droughts, tropical climate shifts, forests and huge natural barriers.
Conclusion: as a matter of fact, Maria Rostworovsky steps on the train of the previous ideological interpretations she criticizes. She only widens the ideological buzz floating about a still fragmentary archeological evidence. She even finds support in psychoanalysis, a very recent practice, which has so much successes spread around, as the millenia-experience of the andean people remains unknown. This book makes me so fearful of the «studies» which are always evoked to support a new ground-breaking ideology as the one of «marriage for all». Here, one can read extensively on a variety of clues to support incestuous relationships, as well as a case for a kind of extensive family appertunance, out of which no individual life is conceivable or even sensible. Ideology cannot be avoided, and there it is at full steam. Take care.