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Inca Strategies of Conquest and Control: Toward a Comprehensive Model of Pre-Modern Imperial Administration on the South-Central Coast of Peru


This dissertation uses regional archaeological settlement data to develop a model of Inca imperialism along the south-central Peruvian coast during the terminal decades of the fifteenth century CE. A close investigation of lower and middle valley of Ca�ete, home to the Late Intermediate Period (c. 1100-1450 CE) societies, Huarco and Lunahuan�, along with survey data from the neighboring valley, Chincha, provide both the foundation and impetus for the regional model. The great disparity between the abundance of Late Horizon (1450-1532 CE) Inca architecture and artifacts in middle valley Ca�ete and the near absence of this evidence in the middle valley of Chincha is best explained within the context of the relationship between the lower and middle areas of each valley and a systematic examination of the south-central coast region as a whole.

This regional overview presents the Late Intermediate Period sociopolitical and cultural context and what archaeology and ethnohistory reveals about how the Inca came to control each valley. Particularly illuminating is the variety of architectural layouts and features seen at the primary Inca administrative settlements in each area. This patterned diversity allows for the development of a theoretical model which links the archaeological signatures of Inca control to a set of imperial strategies pursued in the negotiation between state interests and practical limitations.

More precise spatial modeling of pre-Inca political boundaries allows for a better understanding of the way the physical landscape structured local political boundaries. A valley by valley explanation of Inca administration reveals that each of the primary Inca sites functioned as the central element of an imperial control strategy oriented about the larger area. What results is a detailed, comprehensive patchwork of Inca imperial modalities, with recognizable material signatures, potentially applicable to the wider Andean sphere.

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