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The Politics of Community and Inka Statecraft in the Colca Valley, Peru


Wernke, Steven A. (2006). The Politics of Community and Inka Statecraft in the Colca Valley, Peru. Latin American Antiquity, 17(2), 177-208.


In this paper I investigate the community-level articulation of imperial and local political structures during the Inka occupation of the Collagua Province, located in the Colca Valley of highland southern Peru. Combined ethnohistorical and archaeological analysis document the emergence of a hybrid imperial/local political formation in the shift from autonomous rule during the Late Intermediate period (A.D. 1000-1450) to the Inka occupation during the Late horizon (A.D. 1450-1532). Documentary evidence reveals considerable but uneven penetration of Inka imperial institutions across the two ranked moieties that structure local community organization, with remarkably close conformity between Inkaic ideals of rank and hierarchy among the communities (ayllus) of the lower moiety, but greater autonomy among the higher-ranking ayllus of the upper moiety. New data from a systematic survey around the provincial capital documents a decentralized Late Intermediate period settlement pattern associated with fortifications, suggesting segmentary autonomous political organization. The subsequent Late horizon settlement pattern signals overall occupational continuity, but with the establishment of an Inka administrative center and the installation of central plazas and Inka structures at large settlements with local elite domestic architecture. The two data sets combined provide a integrated view of centralized, but locally mediated, Inka administration.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Latin American Antiquity


Wernke, Steven A.