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Home arrow History arrow Southeast Inka Frontiers: Boundaries and Interactions


The body of data collected from the regional survey illuminated the effects of the Inka conquest on the local settlement trends. The Inka center was not placed in existing population congregations. Instead, Khosko Toro was a region of low population density before the Inka arrived, a pattern that continued thereafter. The few settlements were sparsely distributed and were characterized by the use of the Manchachi Slate on Red pottery style. Technologically, these ceramics had attributes resembling those from the sub-Andean southern valleys.

The Inka frontier installations in Khosko Toro fulfilled various functions involving defense and surveillance. There was a formidable linear

barricade wall supplemented with defensive outposts, and additional wall segments protected the weakest flanks of the adjacent hills. All were constructed in the intermediate style. The Cuzcotuyo installation stood out as the main fortification. However, we found no evidence of broader population influx or the establishment of mitmaqkuna colonies, as seen in other regions. Moreover, the Cuzcotuyo stronghold did not house a large standing army either. Although this might be related to the low regional demographic levels, other explanations are possible. Either the troops were kept mobile on the farther southeastern tropics or the Inka empire was too large to maintain a strong military presence equally distributed along all areas. In this context, it is likely that some fortified frontier segments like Khosko Toro were lightly manned by the local allies, but kept ready for occupation by larger state troops whenever necessary.

Concerning the distribution of Inka and lowland materials in the settlements of the region, to our surprise, we found no Inka Cuzco or Inka regional materials. Although this might be due to the sparse occupation, such an absence also indicates that the Inka did not use imperial ceramics as part of a prestige-goods economy or for alliance building. If these ceramics were part of the broad exchange networks crossing the frontier, Cuzcotuyo was certainly not the final destination. The nonexistence of Inka materials also reveals that the frontier inhabitants did not develop a preference for incorporating Inka stylistic canons into their own ceramics. Similarly, there were no Guarani materials in the settlements. If the Guarani-Chiriguanos intermittently invaded the region as reported in the Colonial accounts, they did not permanently settle in the region. Neither did they bring with them ceramic containers in their periodic raids.

In sum, the Inka settlement pattern in the region was characterized by an emphasis on defense, communication, and control in a lightly occupied region. It is also possible that the frontier zone was deliberately kept relatively vacant, perhaps as a strategy to use it as a buffer territory. Nevertheless, the Cuzcotuyo complex was part of a broader system of frontier facilities placed in an important ecological and cultural interface. Although it is likely that these frontier facilities were used as advance points toward the eastern tropics, the intermittent attacks of the Guarani- Chiriguano tribes undoubtedly halted these efforts.

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