From Heartland to Province: Assessing Inca Political Economy through Material Culture Signatures

Author(s): Amanda Aland; Kylie Quave

Year: 2018


Archaeological studies of Inca hegemony often focus on the intensity or degree of "Incanization," or assimilation to Inca material culture. These studies particularly rely upon well-preserved and highly visible remains, especially well-fired polychrome ceramics and monumental architecture. While Inca scholars have begun to analyze Inca hegemony in theoretically sophisticated ways that reveal how material culture legitimizes imperial rule, these approaches present several weaknesses: (1) sampling complications that can bias assessments of intensity; (2) insufficient consideration of the nature of Inca hegemony in diverse provincial settings; and (3) undue assumptions about the Inca heartland material assemblage to which provincial remains are compared. Because heartland sites have not been systematically reported in great numbers, we propose that more rigorous comparisons of horizontal excavations in the heartland are necessary for productively evaluating provincial contexts. Comparisons of Inca material signatures from recently-excavated heartland sites and one provincial site (Chao Valley) underpin our plea for more robust analyses of the nature of Inca hegemony. We further argue that rather than assess Incanization directed from center to periphery, we must acknowledge that the archaeological record was formed by local decisions and actions as much as by imperial policies.

Cite this Record

From Heartland to Province: Assessing Inca Political Economy through Material Culture Signatures. Amanda Aland, Kylie Quave. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 443851)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -82.441; min lat: -56.17 ; max long: -64.863; max lat: 16.636 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 18797