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Interregional Trade

The excavations in the main Oroncota complex revealed an absence of imported pottery from the adjacent valley polities, despite the fact that it was common in other settlements of the region. This indicates that these items were not important in imperial diplomacy and in other Inka powerbuilding activities of the center. Another possibility is that these imported wares lost their economic value or prestige after the Inka assumed political and economic control of the region. Although one can hypothesize that the use of ceramic styles from conquered adjoining polities was no longer a sign of status for the Inka or the emerging local aristocracy, excavations in the local Yoroma center revealed a reorientation of the trading networks. Before the Inka arrived, imported wares, such as Yura and Huruquilla, were broadly used as funerary paraphernalia. Later, the use of these goods was limited to elite residences, signaling that they served to mark the status of emerging Yampara elite segments. In a context of successful alliances with the empire, elite factions dwelling in Yoroma benefited directly from earlier trading networks to enhance their status (Alconini 2008b, 2008c, 2010).

Hence, the absence of imported ceramic styles in areas of public feasting in the Oroncota complex might suggest that the empire was mainly concerned with promoting the integration of the local Yampara elite. This implied minimizing the value of imported wares in state-sponsored celebrations. A similar situation is documented in the Mantaro region, where the Inka conquest implied a reduction in the access of imported ceramics from adjacent regions, a situation accompanied by the progressive insertion of Inka imperial pottery as the new markers of status and wealth (Costin and Earle 1989). Likewise, in the Oroncota building complex, imported pottery was excluded from public activities sponsored by the Inka. However, instead of replacing imported wares with imperial pottery, as part of a deliberate Inka effort, local Yampara serving vessels were more frequently used.

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