Show Summary Details

Page of

Printed from Oxford Research Encyclopedias, Anthropology. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 01 October 2022

The Pre-Columbian Inca Empire: The Capital and its Provinceslocked

The Pre-Columbian Inca Empire: The Capital and its Provinceslocked

  • Sonia AlconiniSonia AlconiniUniversity of Virgnia


Recent multidisciplinary research combining archaeology, bioarchaeology, and DNA and isotope analyses has revolutionized our understanding of the Inca empire and the astonishing diversity of its inhabitant. This article aims to shed light on the sociopolitical dynamics of this pre-Columbian empire and the associated breakthrough research. The first two sections (Land of the Four Parts Together, and Building the Inca Empire: Historical Narratives), offer a discussion on the political structure of the Inca empire, including the chronology and sequence of expansion using historical documents and the emerging challenges. The following sections (Cuzco: The Imperial Capital and Sacred Center, and The Heartland: An Incomplete Project?) are dedicated to the capital of Cuzco, the current research on the imperial heartland that highlights processes of state formation, and disparate imperial transformations at the time of Spanish conquest. Emerging debates on the complex relationship between Inca material culture and imperial expansion are also included. In the next sections (The Swift Inca Expansion: Competing Explanations, and Tradition and Innovation: Socioeconomic Institutions in Imperial Expansion), a discussion on the competing explanations and challenges on the timing and scale of expansion is provided. This includes the ways in which the millions of participating communities in the Inca imperial project actively adapted, but also transformed many of the state socioeconomic institutions and practices. Comparatively, the next sections (Infrastructure and Imperial Power: Royal Estates and Imperial Centers, and Imperial Appropriations: Places of Creation and the “Other Cuzcos”) examine the role that royal estates, imperial centers, and “Other Cuzcos” played in broader socioeconomic processes. The final section (Elite Incanization and Indigenous Agency: Provincial Archaeologies) is dedicated to indigenous agency and the importance of provincial archaeologies in understanding the nature of the Inca empire on a finer scale.


  • Archaeology

You do not currently have access to this article


Please login to access the full content.


Access to the full content requires a subscription