Ancient Andean Scalarity

Author(s): Steve Kosiba; Bruce Mannheim

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Beyond the Round House: Spatial Logic and Settlement Organization across the Late Andean Highlands" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Scholars of the Andes often assume that the social units they study—residence, community, and region—are monotonically scaled, nested from smaller to larger. This suggests universal correspondences between the analytical and observational objects through which social units are known; hence individual buildings may stand in for households, intermediate social units, or broader publics. Yet this assumption does not hold in Southern Quechua, the language of the Inkas, wherein relevant social units are often non-scalar, or inherently linked to other units: for instance, wasi (sometimes translated as "house structure") presupposes a larger social unit llaqta (a cluster, a hamlet or even a country). Southern Quechua spatial orientation greatly differs from prevailing archaeological models of domestic space and settlement, which suggest scalar gradations in size and function from house, to hamlet, to center and hinterland. How can we analytically model scalarity in Inka social organization, particularly with respect to such units as wasi, llaqta, and ayllu?. Archaeological data from settlements in Cusco, Peru (e.g., Rumiqolqa, Ollantaytambo) reveal that Inka notions of domestic space were (as today) centered less on scalable physical structures and more on the situated configurations of labor, people, plants, and soils that together defined social units and scales.

Cite this Record

Ancient Andean Scalarity. Steve Kosiba, Bruce Mannheim. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 451113)

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 24090