Provisioning the Imperial Frontier: An Investigation of Inka and Indigenous Activities in the Pulquina Arriba Region of Western Santa Cruz, Bolivia




Warren, Matthew

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This dissertation presents the results of an archaeological study of the Inka-period occupation of the Pulquina Arriba valley, situated in the eastern Interandean valleys (valles cruceños) of the department of Santa Cruz, Bolivia. The Inkas and allied settler groups (mitmaqkuna) attempted to reinforce the eastern imperial frontier against the violent incursions of Guaraní peoples from the nearby lowlands, and the site of Pulquina Arriba represented an important component in the system of defensive settlements constructed across the region. During a short period in the final decades of the Inka Empire, this portion of the eastern frontier witnessed a radical demographic and cultural transformation through the combined actions of the Inkas, their Charcas-affiliated allies, and the invading Guaraní-Chiriguanos.

This research fits into a broader body of emerging knowledge concerned with the diverse Inka strategies of incorporation and control in their provincial and borderland territories. It also addresses such issues as the role played by the Inka tampu (waystation) of Pulquina Arriba, status differences within among the locally-stationed imperial retainers and laborers, and the broader cultural history of the region. From analyses of the data generated through a systematic survey of the study area and excavations at the tampu and several other archaeological sites, I argue that the Inka-period inhabitants of Pulquina Arriba were responsible for provisioning imperial military forces, and that although they enjoyed few material indicators of elevated status, these non-Inka groups exercised considerable control and influence within the contested borderland region.


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Andes, Bolivia, Colonialism, Frontiers, Inka