The Inca Empire, at its peak, was the largest kingdom on Earth. The Incas were known as master builders, fearsome warriors, and practitioners of human sacrifice. Yet in the year 1532, this mighty state was conquered, overnight, by fewer than 200 Spanish adventurers. How could this happen? Step by step, clue by clue, Sullivan decodes the myths of the Incas to reveal that they embody an astoundingly thorough record of astronomical events – a record so precise it can be checked against a modern computer program. And he uncovers the Incas’ tragic secret: they knew they were doomed. As they watched the skies for over a thousand years, the priest-astronomers of the Andes came to believe that great transitions in the heavens foretold great transitions here on earth. In the fifteenth century, they read the sky and saw the signs of an apocalypse. So the Incas took a desperate gamble: if events in the heavens could influence those on earth, perhaps the reverse was true. Their rituals of warfare and human sacrifice were nothing less than an attempt to stop time, to forestall the cataclysm that would sweep their world away. The Inca gamble failed, for just at the time the prophecy predicted, the Conquistadors arrived. Yet even as their world collapsed, the Andean shamans set their wisdom afloat in the waters of time, aboard the vessel of myth. In this book, after four centuries of oblivion, their message has been received.