Camelid Herding and Enduring Community Identities among the Ayarmacas (Cuzco, Peru)

Author(s): Kylie Quave; R. Alan Covey

Year: 2018


Indiscriminate invocation of the term ayllu constrains archaeological reconstructions of community organization in the pre-contact Andean highlands. Legacies of earlier generations of anthropological scholarship encourage researchers to assume particular traits of sociopolitical organization. Archaeological and ethnohistoric evidence from the Cuzco region of Peru demonstrates how such assumptions can be an obstacle to developing accurate representations of social organization. As Inca elites extended power in the Cuzco region (AD 1200-1400), they interacted with diverse societies that did not all resemble the monolithic Andean ayllu. One compelling case for reconsidering ayllu organization is Yunkaray, seat of the powerful Ayarmaca polity, located near Maras, 35 km northwest of Cuzco.

This paper uses ethnohistory, regional settlement patterns, and excavation results from Yunkaray to note divergences from classic ayllu attributes. We identify camelid herding as a potentially integrative force in pre-Inca community formation, and examine the public performance of community identity in relation to Yunkaray’s neighboring polities. We trace the enduring Yunkaray community through its sociopolitical apogee and the subsequent forced resettlement of its residents by the Incas. Finally, we consider how the imagined community of Ayarmacas relates to local ayllus that coalesced in the early Colonial period, especially through processes of Spanish resettlement.

Cite this Record

Camelid Herding and Enduring Community Identities among the Ayarmacas (Cuzco, Peru). Kylie Quave, R. Alan Covey. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 444191)

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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): 18816