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The Role of Chullpas in the Inca Conquest of the Southern Altiplano: A Symmetrical Approach

Author(s): Axel Nielsen

Year: 2016

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I start with the premise that chullpas (architectural modules formed by a chamber which can be accessed by a narrow opening) are wak’as, persons with higher ontological status than humans, capable of acting in different ways (housing the dead, storing crops, guarding territories, defending communities, marking status differences among people, etc.) and settings (pukaras, villages, caves, or fields), as full members of altiplano society. I propose that chullpas were important actors in the Inca conquest of the Southern Altiplano (Lipez), collaborating with the State in the reconfiguration of local landscapes, memory, and political institutions. To justify this hypothesis, I present the changing forms, uses, and contextual associations of these architectural modules in different types of sites, including caves, pukaras, non-defensive villages, and fields. Noting the differences between Late Intermediate and Inca period chullpa characteristics and distributions, I discuss the roles these wak’as may have played in the local constitution of (or resistance to) the empire.

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The Role of Chullpas in the Inca Conquest of the Southern Altiplano: A Symmetrical Approach. Axel Nielsen. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403522)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -93.691; min lat: -56.945 ; max long: -31.113; max lat: 18.48 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America