The analysis of artifact assemblages within and across contexts, along with the analysis of architectural variation, facilitated the reconstruction of the array of activities, occupational history, and evolution of each Inka complex. The changes in the densities of the different sets of artifact assemblages (for example, ceramics, lithics, metals) were also recorded, particularly those with Inka, local, or Guarani affiliation across sites and periods. Particular attention was paid to documenting the densities and contexts of Inka imperial materials and status goods in the main Inka installations and surrounding settlements. Status Inka materials often included decorated ceramics, arybaloids as a symbol of state-sponsored hospitality celebrations, and other materials like elaborate shell objects, personal adornments in metal, and precious stones in the form of bracelets, diadems, and tupu copper pins. It was important to know, for example, whether Inka Cuzco style ceramics were limited to the Inka installation residents, or if they had a wider use. A differential distribution of these materials among local residents, or their restricted occurrence in neighboring villages, would suggest their movement in a prestige-goods economy—particularly if found in contexts suggestive of higher social status (for example, larger or more elaborate dwellings). In addition, the deliberate adoption of Inka stylistic canons in pottery decoration and even house composition or shape would suggest the Inkanization of some local population segments.
Altogether, this information made it possible to reconstruct the intensity of the different activities, settlement trajectories, and changes in the artifactual assemblages in order to gain an accurate picture of the regional frontier dynamics. This information was crucial to address the research goals and the nature of the Southeastern Inka frontier in light of the spectrum of frontier possibilities discussed in the first chapter.