Symbolizing imperial affiliation in death

Case studies from the Inka empire (ad 1400–1532)

Authored by: Colleen Zori

The Routledge Handbook of Death and the Afterlife

Print publication date:  June  2018
Online publication date:  June  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138682160
eBook ISBN: 9781315545349
Adobe ISBN:


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During Inka imperial expansion (AD 1400–1532), political affiliations among provincial peoples were often highly contested, even within a single community. Mortuary ritual was one arena in which an individual’s political affiliation was performed and made manifest, in part through the strategic inclusion or exclusion of Inka-style grave goods. Using pottery and other types of funerary offerings, this chapter analyzes three case studies documenting how local-imperial relationships were symbolized in death, drawing from the Calchaquí Valley (northwestern Argentina), the Locumba Valley (Southern Peru), and the Ica Valley (central Peruvian coast). These examples show that provincial communities varied in the degree to which they held shared or internally divergent degrees of affiliation with the empire. Moreover, they indicate that a shared sense of either allegiance to or resistance against the Inka empire was particularly important in communities recently resettled by the empire. In these newly established settlements, consensus in political affiliation likely played an important role in forging relationships with other community members. At the same time, the extent to which allegiance to the Inka was shared across different social strata created both opportunities and limitations on how ties to the empire could be used to accrue social power.

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