Inca Stone Sources, Quarrying, and Transport

Author(s): Dennis Ogburn; Bill Sillar; Rob Ixer

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "How Did the Inca Construct Cuzco?" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Stone was fundamental to building Cuzco and there was significant variability in the sources and sizes of stones employed. To understand the history of construction, we must take into account relationships with the people and resources of the wider region, which impacted where the stones originated and how they were worked, transported, and used. Changes in the choice of stone depended partly on how the properties of the material relate to building techniques, but perhaps more important were the socio-politics of Inca access to labor and resources and the political and religious significance attached to specific sources. We discuss research into identifying the geological sources of Cuzco building stones via pXRF and petrography, which involved characterizing stone from multiple quarry sites in the region and matching that to the geochemistry of Cuzco’s building stones. We argue there were several phases of development that can be distinguished by the choice of stone and the sizes of building blocks. These changes in stone use tie the development of Cuzco into that of the Inca royal estates and the expansion of Inca political dominance in the region, giving us significant insights into the chronology of the construction of Cuzco.

Cite this Record

Inca Stone Sources, Quarrying, and Transport. Dennis Ogburn, Bill Sillar, Rob Ixer. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 451988)

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 24378