Chullpas and the Political Relations with the Inside-world in the Inka Empire

Author(s): Axel Nielsen

Year: 2018


Previous research has interpreted chullpas as open sepulchers, altars, and landmarks which participated in political projects mainly by helping to reproduce corporate identities through ancestor worship and by inscribing power hierarchies and territorial claims on the landscape. This paper builds on the premise that chullpas were not just things with a certain function, but non-human persons (wak'as) capable of acting in different ways, given the affordances of their corporeality as towers or chambers. This idea raises new possibilities for thinking about the political work of chullpas in the Andean highlands. The formalized opening that characterizes these structures, for example, allowed them to mediate between the world of people (akapacha in Aymara) and the inside-world (ukhupacha), where powerful agencies lived. Combining historical information and archaeological data from the South Andean highlands, I discuss the role that chullpas played in the Inka political machine as mediators with the non-human members of society who belonged to the ukhupacha.

Cite this Record

Chullpas and the Political Relations with the Inside-world in the Inka Empire. Axel Nielsen. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 444184)

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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): 22288