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Trading Networks: Inka and Imported Pottery

The analysis of Inka pottery allowed us to determine if the Oroncota Valley developed a prestige-goods economy characterized by the restricted distribution of Inka imperial goods favoring local elite segments. Alternatively, it is also possible that the distribution of these imperial goods was unrestricted and widespread, perhaps as a state strategy to promote broad economic integration and acculturation. To evaluate these and other alternatives, the distribution of Inka-related items under the categories of Inka regional styles, Inka Cuzco, and Pacajes Saxamar ceramics from the Circum-Titicaca was charted. Furthermore, the evaluation of the distribution of Inka-related styles in comparison with site size, function, and location provided additional information for understanding the ways in which these materials were distributed throughout the local population. One alternative was that the native residents would show broad affiliation with the Inka, including the acceptance of imperial canons. Archaeologically, this would be expressed in the rise of mixed Inka-regional styles that incorporated Inka motifs and forms into locally manufactured ceramics. In this case, the distribution of Inka-regional ceramics should be widely distributed across the distinct types of sites. Alternatively, if Inka materials were part of a prestige-goods economy intended to reward vertical alliances or to be used as status emblems, Inka ceramics should display a restricted distribution. They would most likely be found in Inka and local centers or in the residences of the local elite.

The results were surprising. Very few sites held Inka Cuzco style pottery. These ceramics were found in only four sites, including the main Oroncota Inka complex, a small observatory post, and two other sites on the Valley floor. Since only a small segment of the population had Inka or Inka-related ceramics, this indicates the restricted access or limited acceptance of these items by the overall population. In addition, by charting the spatial distribution of the imperial pottery found in the Oron- cota Valley, the results reinforced the interpretation that the allocation of imperial ceramics did not strictly correspond to distance factors alone

Distribution of Inka and Inka-related pottery in relation to distance from the main Oroncota Inka center (the proportion reflects the total of non-utilitarian pottery)

Figure 4.21. Distribution of Inka and Inka-related pottery in relation to distance from the main Oroncota Inka center (the proportion reflects the total of non-utilitarian pottery).

(Figure 4.21). Rather, they were restricted in distribution even in imperial facilities, and they were virtually absent in the indigenous settlements.

Likewise, foreign Pacajes pottery (also known as Saxamar) is a variant related to the imperial presence. It was manufactured in the highlands of the Titicaca basin, and it relates to the Pacajes polity. We found this imported style in direct association with Inka facilities. One was a residential area adjacent to the Oroncota Inka complex on the Plateau, and the second was an adjacent observatory post (Figure 4.22). Pacajes pottery was not necessarily a status good. Instead, we know that the Pacajes from Col- lasuyu were important imperial allies, playing a central role in the expansion of the state in the south. Pacajes colonies (along with other groups) were sent to the adjacent region of Tarabuco as mitmaqkunas (Barragan Romano 1994; del Rio and Presta 1995:201; Julien 1995:107; Langer Detlef 1989). In Chile and northwest Argentina, they served as imperial administrators and Inka representatives (Santoro et al. 2010; Silva 1992-1993).

As with the other two styles, mixed Yampara-Inka ceramic styles were documented at few sites. These sites did not share much in size, function, location, or access to other prestige items. With one exception (S- 238), most of them were small communities or homesteads composed of single structures. Therefore, it is very likely that the use of Yampara-Inka

Inka and Pacajes Inka imported styles

Figure 4.22. Inka and Pacajes Inka imported styles: regional Yampara style with Yam- para features (bottom).

ceramic style did not represent the “acculturation” or affiliation of one privileged group to the state. Rather, one segment of the local population might have developed a preference for incorporating Inka canons in their own ceramics. Therefore, we can conclude that the relations established by the Inka did not result in the privileged access to the finely elaborated Inka Cuzco style pottery as gifts for the native elite. Neither did imperial goods in Oroncota circulate in a way that might indicate the presence of a

Omereque and Yura imported styles. The two upper plates show the entire vessel decoration

Figure 4.23. Omereque and Yura imported styles. The two upper plates show the entire vessel decoration.

prestige-goods economy. Instead, the evidence suggests limited access to imperial pottery.

With regard to the existing exchange networks, the Oroncota Valley was part of extensive interregional spheres that crossed diverse ecologies prior to the arrival of the Inka. That is how a myriad of goods—includ- ing polychrome ceramic vessels in the Mojocoya, Omereque, Yura, and Huruquilla styles from neighboring polities—were extensively distributed (Figures 4.23 and 4.24). During the Early Yampara period, most local settlements were part of these networks, considering that each site had an average access of 1.5 types of imported styles. However, this pattern changed over time (Figure 4.25). In the following Classic Yampara period, this index declined to nearly half (mean of 0.86 imported styles by site), and in the Late Yampara-Inka period this decline continued (mean of 0.65 imported styles by site). Other factors, including broader processes

Imported styles from the nearby valley polities

Figure 4.24. Imported styles from the nearby valley polities: Huruquilla (top left), Yura (top right), Valley Tiwanaku and Mojocoya (left).

Shifts in the interregional trade of imported pottery in the Oroncota region

Figure 4.25. Shifts in the interregional trade of imported pottery in the Oroncota region.

of regional reorganization, a change in the nature of the trading circuits, or the increased Guarani-Chiriguano invasions, might have all been involved in the drastic decline. My excavations in the elite center of Yoroma on the Valley floor confirmed this trend. The evidence collected points to an economic reorientation and a shift in the kinds of goods considered valuable by the regional elite. Before the Inka arrived, imported pottery vessels like the Huruquilla and Yura styles from the southern Qaraqara polity were essential components of the mortuary ritual paraphernalia. They were linked to esoteric notions of death and used as burial offerings. With the arrival of the Inka, these imported vessels changed in value, considering that they were increasingly found in elite residences as status markers (Alconini 2008c). Bolstered by the support of the state, it is likely that a segment of the Yampara elite reoriented earlier exchange networks for their own benefit.

 
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