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inca_state_chronology

inca_state_chronology

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02/01/2013

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TOWARDS RADIOCARBON CHRONOLOGY OF THE INCA STATE
 
Anna Adamska
1
 Waliców 20/410PL-00-851 Warszawa, PolandAdam Michczy
ń
skiGliwice Radiocarbon LaboratoryInstitute of Physics, Silesian Technical UniversityBolesława Krzywoustego 2PL-44-100 Gliwice, Poland
SUMMARY: This paper is dedicated to consider a problem of possibility of C-14 method application to establishthe Inca state chronology. We attempted to find out the time intervals of Inca Imperial Phase and IncaPreimperial Phase and to make rough estimation of time intervals corresponding to periods, when succeedingrulers of The Inca Empire reign. To this end we made use of composite probability distribution of calibratedradiocarbon dates. Obtained results seems to confirm time intervals established basing on the chronicles.
Introduction
The Inca State chronology, existing till now and widely accepted, was established on thegrounds of the historical sources, particularly on the chronicles of Pedro Cieza de Leon ("ElSenorio del los Incas" and "La Cronica del Peru"), Juan de Betanzos ("Summa y narracion delos Incas"), Bartolome de las Casas ("Apologetica Historia"), and Miguel Cabello de Valboa("Miscelanea Antarctica"). However this chronology is still an object of controversies betweenthe scholars. The causes for it are as follows:- on the one hand the Inca did not leave us any written sources on this matter.- on the other hand the signification of the information contained in the chronicles is not clearand univocal.These controversies may by solved only by independent archaeological methods. This paperconsider a possibility of application of C-14 method to establish the Inca state chronology.
Chronology of the Inca State
The equivocality of historical sources resulted in the rise of two general chronologicalconceptions, so called schools. The first one, called historical, treats the information containedin the chronicles, particularly the Miguel Cabello de Valboa one, as a record of Inca history.So consequently the list of the Kings cited therein can be considered to be goodapproximation of the Inca past, assuming that it is complete. The scholars belonged to thisschool agree that Inca history divide into two phases: preimperial (local) and imperial. From itthey derive two chronological models. The first one (elaborated by J.H. Rowe) assumes that inthe Inca Kingdom reigned monarchy, so the rulers form the list of Kings succeeded each other
1
Anna Adamska is a graduate of Department of History, Warsaw University. Analysis of archaeological contextof radiocarbon dates concerning the Inca State and initial study of probability distributions obtained aftercalibration were a subject of her master's thesis.
 
(see Appendix 2). According to the second model, called diarchical, in Cuzco governedsimultaneously two dynasties: one of the Hurin and the other of the Hanan Cuzco (seeAppendix 2). As a result of its the length of the preimperial phase would be shorter by a half in comparison with the first model. However lack of sufficient number of ethnologicalevidence do not permit us to declare in favour of one of these conceptions and it is reasonableto leave the problem of diarchy opened.The second school, called anthropological school of R.T. Zuidema (author of the secondmodels cited above), treated whole Inca history presented in the chronicles, up to Spanishconquest as a myth (Zuidema 1964; 1982). According to it, the chronology should beestablished independently by archaeology and its methods.The most widely accepted version of Inca chronology locates the beginnings of theirstate about 1200 AD (J.H. Rowe 1945; 1963). From 1200 to 1438 AD the Incas was a smalltribe, which lived in the neighbourhood of Cuzco. This period is called Preimperial Phase.The Imperial Phase began with reign of Pachakuti Inca Yupanqui - ca 1438 AD andterminated in 1537-1539 AD with Manco Inca withdrawal to Vilcabamba. This period iscommonly considered to be the end of Inca Empire because by then the whole Incaadministration functioned although the Spaniards controlled the greater part of empire.Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui spread his empire over the highlands from lake Titicaca in the southto more or less lake Junin in the north. About 1463 AD, as it is supposed, the command of army was delivered to his son - Topa Inca Yupanqui, who invaded the area from Quitonorthwards to Pacacamac in the Central coast of Peru, including the states Cajamarca andChimu. When Topa Inca came to the throne, he carried on the territorial expansion up to hisdeath about 1493 AD, submitting the west part of actual Bolivia, north-west Argentina andChile and fixing the southern boundary of empire on the Maule (Maipe) river. His successor -Huayna Capac (1493-1528) conquered significant part of Ecuadorion highlands from Quito toAncasmayo river. Huascar Inca and Atahuallpa - sons of Huayna Capac - incorporated onlysmall territories (Huascar incorporated Pasto region, Atahuallpa - Chachapoyas).
State of archaeological investigations
The archaeological investigations have been conduced in all Tawantinsuyu territory, butdegree of its advancing is different in particular countries formed ancient Inca Empire. InEcuador there is a little number of radiocarbon dates coming from Inca sites with goodestablished stratigraphy, because the information comprised in the chronicles has beenconsidered to be sufficient to solve chronological problems. As regard to the territory of Chile,Bolivia and Argentina there are some radiocarbon dates but in general, the investigations onthis matter are little advanced. Only in Peru the state of archaeological research, includingapplication of C-14 method is satisfactory.It is important to point that the great part of excavations in the Inca sites is concentratedon Imperial Phase, because the cultural markers of this phase, contrary to the preimperial one,are well defined. J. H. Rowe indeed set forth the conception to identify the Killke culture withthe Inca Preimperial Phase, but there is lack of sufficient number of archaeological researchwith enough good stratigraphy, which could confirm or deny it. This theory was built basingon stratigraphy of Sacsayhuaman, one of the most famous Inca site. In the main site the Killkeceramic was found under surface level, where it occurred mixed with Inca classic ceramic.The Killke culture differs from other ones only in ceramic, which forms are intermediatebetween Tiahuanaco and Inca. However the architecture pertained to this culture isconstructed in the pirca technique. This arguments in our opinion seem to be not sufficient toidentify it with Inca Preimperial Phase. We do not know after all, whether main culture
 
belongs in fact to Inca or to another tribe group, which lived in Cuzco area at the same time.Consequently, if radiocarbon dates come from architecture built in the pirca technique we canbe in doubt if they pertain to Inca or another group. To assume attitude towards this questionwe need more archaeological research with good stratigraphy.Moreover it is worth to point, that the archaeologists writing about cultural attachmentof the site "Inca" mean by this "Inca Imperial Phase", so it is difficult to establish chronologyfor earlier phase basing only on this information. Besides we do not know exactly when theappearing artefact features, characteristics for Inca imperial phase begun, what would beimportant with estimation of radiocarbon dates attached to the turn of Preimperial Phase.Another problem is attachment of a concrete territory to The Inca Empire, basing onlyon archaeological evidence, because presence of Inca material could indicate Inca occupationas well as to be a result of trade with independent tribe. Moreover there are any visual changesin Inca artefacts during the period of expansion, what makes difficult to distinguish reign of successive rulers.Despite these problems we decided to assume in our analysis that the appearance of theartefacts characteristic for Imperial Phase started in beginnings of this phase and the presenceof the Inca material indicates their occupation of concrete territory.
Problems of interpretation of calibrated radiocarbon dates
One of the basis of the radiocarbon dating is the fundamental hypothesis that theconcentration of 
14
C at biosphere has remained constant during the past 100,000 years.However, with the increase of the accuracy of dating, it was realised that this hypothesis isnot precisely true, and concentration of 
14
C has been variable during the past. Systematicstudies of discrepancies between radiocarbon and calendar dates, based on accurateradiocarbon determinations in dendrochronologically dated tree-ring samples have led topublication of numerous versions of calibration curves and tables. Finally, the high precisioncalibration curves, accepted by the participants of the 12th International RadiocarbonConference in Trondheim in 1985, have been published. Since then the conversion of radiocarbon dates to calendar time-scale has become possible. In 1993 the new, correctedversion of calibration curve have been published in the special number of journal"Radiocarbon" (Fig.1). However, practical application of those high-precision calibrationcurves is not simple. Because of numerous wiggles of calibration curve the correspondencebetween conventional radiocarbon dates and calendar ages is not univocal - there can beseveral values of calendar age corresponding to a given radiocarbon date
.
In order toovercome the difficulties caused by multiple intercepts with calibration curve the concept of probabilistic calibration of radiocarbon dates was introduced and developed together with aset of appropriate computer procedures
 
for performing this calibration
.
Probabilistic character of a result of radiocarbon measurement is integrally relevant tothe nature of radioactive material decay. Due to this nature and random variation duringmeasurement process several concurrent analyses produce statistical spread of obtainedradiocarbon dates. The radiocarbon age expressed as a mean and standard error is aconvenient summary of this statistical spread assumed to be Gaussian distribution (withfamiliar "bell-shape"). The idea of probabilistic calibration consist of making a transformationof initial probability distribution of conventional radiocarbon age into final probabilitydistribution of calendar age. After conversion of likelihood distribution of radiocarbon age,using calibration curve, to appropriate probability distribution of calendar age we can obtainvarious shapes of the latter. The simplest example we may obtain is likelihood distribution of calendar age looking like Gaussian distribution. More complex example we may obtain is

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