Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form


Garrido Escobar, Francisco Javier (2015) MINING AND THE INCA ROAD IN THE PREHISTORIC ATACAMA DESERT, CHILE. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

Accepted Version

Download (19MB)


Traditionally, treatments of the Inca Empire have sought to document its deep economic and political impact on local populations in the Andes. There has been less study of how subject groups might have independently negotiated opportunistic economic responses to the Inca Empire. This research explores this issue through the investigation of the relationship between the Inca Road and a recently discovered, non-Inca system of mining camps, isolated deep in the Atacama Desert, northern Chile. Study of the development of these camps, and of their relationship with the Road aimed at addressing whether the Atacama Inca Road, served as a linear exchange nexus, or only as a highway servicing Inca imperial needs.
To address this objective, I conducted a one-year project of survey, surface collection, and excavation to investigate: (1) the social organization and chaîne opératoire of turquoise and malachite beads, and red pigment production at the Cachiyuyo de Llampos Mountain camps; and (2) the nature of settlement and associated artifact assemblages along a nearby section of the Inca Road. In contrast to Inca state-ruled mining sites from the Inca epoch, these Chilean camps lacked Inca architecture and production patterns, presenting instead a pattern of artisan household mining and craft production of copper ore beads, iron oxide red pigment, and the crafting of items with distantly acquired raw materials. This craft production predated the Inca, and was not greatly altered following Inca conquest. However, occupation and production did intensify following Inca conquest, as the Road became a logistical resource for the camps, facilitating provisioning and exchange. Local miners and artisans worked full time in the desert, far from agricultural areas; the Inca Road became their main connection for the acquisition and movement of goods, independent of the Inca Empire’s imperial purposes. The data generated on domestic and craft activities, and on local and long distance exchange, contributes to our understanding of the use of the Inca Road and to how populations respond to imperial infrastructure.


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Garrido Escobar, Francisco Javierfcogarrido@gmail.com0000-0001-8979-2670
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairBermann, Marcbermarc@pitt.eduBERMARC
Committee MemberArkush, Elizabetharkush@pitt.eduARKUSH
Committee MemberDrennan, Robertdrennan@pitt.eduDRENNAN
Committee MemberHanks, Bryanbkh5@pitt.eduBKH5
Committee MemberRichardson,
Committee MemberAbbott, MarkMAbbott1@pitt.eduMABBOTT1
Date: 15 September 2015
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 27 April 2015
Approval Date: 15 September 2015
Submission Date: 5 August 2015
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 343
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Anthropology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Inca Road, Prehistoric mining, Atacama desert, Household Archaeology, Inca Empire
Date Deposited: 15 Sep 2015 15:01
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:29


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item