Sonia Alconini

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Virginia, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9940

Approve Date

October 24, 2019

Project Title

Alconini, Sonia (Virginia, U. of) " Ancient Inka imperial frontiers: Colonization, power and elite strategies"

SONIA ALCONINI, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, received funding in October 2019 to aid research on “Ancient Inka Imperial Frontiers: Colonization, Power and Elite Strategies.” Located in the ‘Elbow of the Andes,’ Samaipata was an Inka frontier installation established by two relatives of the Inka ruler. To assess the colony’s transformations and the strategies used by these frontier lords to assert control, we examined through a regional scale pedestrian survey: 1) the changes and continuities in the settlement trajectories; 2) the scale of agrarian and storage infrastructure; 3) the nature of the Inka support facilities; and 4) the distribution of Inka and local cultural materials. The results revealed a surprisingly limited occupation around Samaipata. There was also a near absence of Inka ceramics, status materials or settlements with Inka architecture. This contrasts with other provincial centers, characterized by the massive influx of mitmaqkuna farming colonies. Instead, political alliances with local ethnicities facilitated farming production in the nearby Mairana valley. These resources were transferred and stored in two prominent storage facilities adjacent to a transportation route leading to Samaipata. Considering the several rock art sites carved with cylindrical cupules (piedras tacita) around Samaipata, this center was established over a sacred node. Likely, the frontier lords were autonomous in orientation and practice, as they established a control node far from the imperial core.