Forms of imperial control and the negotiation of local autonomy in the cinti valley of Bolivia

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This chapter presents novel information on the valley of Cinti, Chuquisaca, part of the Qaraqara territory. Based on a regional-scale analysis, intrasite artifact assemblage, architectural analysis, and ethnohistorical information, Rivera discusses the kinds of changes that the Inkas introduced in the valley of Cinti to assess the nature of the Inka control. Using data from her regional survey, Rivera shows that prior to the Inkas, the region already had a three-tiered integrated socioeconomic system, with Jatun Huankarani as the regional center. This regional center and the subsidiary secondary settlements were not only located in the best agriculturally productive areas but also had a significant number of corrals, suggesting the centers' participation in llama caravan exchange networks. In addition, these centers had large proportions of serving vessels, suggesting the involvement of local chiefs residing in these centers in feasting and redistributive tasks. By the time of the Inkas, important changes are observed. On the one hand, the absence of Inka facilities, imperial cultural materials, or sites with mixed Inka-local architecture suggests to Rivera that the local elites did not choose to follow imperial canons and that the Inkas controlled the region in an indirect fashion. However, the author also suggests that despite this indirect control, the region was progressively incorporated into the Inka economy. Although the three-tiered settlement hierarchy with Jatun Huankarani at the top remained, important changes are observable. First, subsidiary sites along the road network witnessed an increase in the proportion of serving vessels in comparison to large centers; second, satellite settlements around the largest centers saw an increase in the number of corrals; and third, there was an agricultural intensification marked by the expansion of agricultural terraces and associated features. However, the distribution of prestige materials was not substantially different across sites. To Rivera, this indicates that in addition to enhancing the agrarian regional economy, the Inkas were strategically controlling and reorienting the nature of the exchange networks. The fact that proportionately more serving vessels were found in subsidiary settlements than in main centers suggests to the author that hospitality and redistribution activities shifted to support facilities along the road network. Taking into account the absence of Inka facilities or circulation of prestige imperial materials, Rivera suggests an indirect form of imperial rule, although the region was progressively incorporated into the imperial economy. An aspect worth exploring further is the changing power relations of the regional elites at the time of the Inkas. An alternative way to assess the changes observed by Rivera may involve the possibility that these regional centers, despite their involvement in trade and exchange, were no longer the home of powerful chiefs having the capacity to engage in large-scale redistributive tasks. If such were the case, this would suggest that despite the indirect control that the Inkas exercised, the regional lords were increasingly lessened in status or changed residences, and that therefore their role in the emerging administrative structure was restricted to overseeing the proper functioning of the exchange networks. Clearly, future research by Rivera and colleagues in Cinti is crucial to assess the effects of the Inka conquest from household and communal levels. The value of this chapter is that it introduces this region to a broader debate relating the Inka influence in the southern Bolivian valleys from a regional perspective.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDistant provinces in the inka empire
Subtitle of host publicationToward a Deeper Understanding of Inka Imperialism
PublisherUniversity of Iowa Press
Number of pages22
ISBN (Print)1567298694, 9781587298691
StatePublished - 2010


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