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Arqueología, Perú Arqueología, Perú Arqueología, Perú Arqueología, Perú

    Dr. John R. Topic


    At the time of the Spanish conquest, the Inca Empire incorporated numerous ethnic groups speaking a variety of languages and characterized by distinctive dress. Many commentators have noted that, while the Inca encouraged the use of Quechua as a common language and spread the cult of the Sun as a common religion, they allowed ethnic groups to continue to worship local deities, speak the local languages, and maintain many traditional aspects of land tenure and political organization. Indeed, Spanish chroniclers suggest that the Inca went beyond passive acceptance of diversity to require those performing labor service for the state or those moved permanently to distant settlements by the state to maintain the traditional dress of their ethnic group.

    In this paper, I will examine the development of ethnic identity in a single case, that of Huamachuco in the north highlands of Peru. I particularly wish to trace the changes in ethnic consciousness brought about by the Inca ad-ministration. Before the Incas, we have only archaeological information upon which to base our interpretations. Archaeological data can document ethnic divisions where they are sharply drawn, for example betweun the Recuay and Moche cultures in the Nepeña Valley during the Early Intermediate Period (Proulx 1983). With the Inca, however, we can begin to apply mythical and political information derived from historic sources.

    In the case of Huamachuco, the archaeological distributions of cultural attributes associated with ethnic identity in the Andes suggest interactions with Cajamarca to the north and Conchucos to the south that resulted in a continuum of cultural variability. Archaeological, linguistic, and mythical evidence does not suggest sharp ethnic boundaries. There is, however, more evidence of sharing between the Conchucos and Huamachuco areas than between the Cajamarca and Huamachuco areas. The Ynca admynistration imposed on this dynamic situation a much more structured territorial, social, and political identity.

    Huamachuco is located in the northern sierra of Peru, at the extreme southern end of the Condebamba Basin (Figures 1 and 2). The Condebamba River flows north to join with the Cajamarca River. The conjoined rivers form the Crisnejas River, which flows east-ward to the Marañon River. Huamachuco is separated from Conchucos and the headwaters of several rivers that flow down to the Pacific (the Chicama, Moche, Vim, Chao, and Tablachaca Rivers) by high altitude grasslands and passes more than 4000 m in elevation.

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