How the Yamparas Were Conquered and Lured by the Inka
Ethnohistoric documents mention that the earliest inhabitants of this region were the Chuis, Chichas, Churumatas, and Yamparas (Alconini 2008b; Barragan Romano 1994; Barragan V. 2008; del Rio and Presta 1995; Parssinen and Siiriainen 2003). Allegedly, during the Inka era this region took part in one of the major revolts against the Inka ruler Tupac Inka Yupanqui. Because of its sheer cliffs, Oroncota is depicted in these accounts as a “natural fortification," where thousands of natives fled to organize the defense against the intruding imperial armies (Cobo 1993 [1582-1587]:145-146) (Figure 4.2). Determined to crush the rebellion, the ruler Tupac Inka Yupanqui ordered the preparation of a sketch map of the Pucara to identify its main weaknesses. Based on this information, he decided to construct an adjacent defensive installation to mount the attack. He also used less conventional methods to penetrate this seemingly impregnable stronghold. Cobo (1993 [1582-1587]) vividly describes how Tupac Inka Yupanqui ordered a group of beautiful women to dance,
Figure 4.2. Picture of the Oroncota Valley and the Pucara Plateau, described in ethno- historical accounts as a “natural fortification.”
sing, and drink in front of the stronghold for consecutive nights in order to enchant and distract the guards. The strategy succeeded, inducing the guards to fall under their spell. As a result, the imperial armies penetrated the stronghold, resulting in the region falling definitively under the Inka imperial control. However, as any imperial narrative, this account was idealized over time, including elements of a legendary journey. For example, this legend inflates the number of adversaries (10,000 Inka soldiers and more than 20,000 Indians escaping Inka control), and portrays the role of “siren” women luring the soldiers to abandon an impregnable stronghold (see also Alconini 2009).
After the conquest of Oroncota and the adjacent valleys, the Inka state reorganized the region following a decimal administrative system. As a result, the Yampara territory was arranged into two moieties with ten ayl- lus each, and the dual capitals of Yotala and Quila Quila were founded (Barragan Romano 1994; Julien 1995:106). In this context, Oroncota became an archipelago of Hatun Yampara in the southern limits of the Yampara territory and part of the ayllu Urinsaya Guaracha (Barragan Romano 1994:104; del Rio and Presta 1995; Julien 1995:106). Spatially, to the southwest of this valley dwelled the powerful Qaraqara polity, thought to be of altiplanic origins. To the east extended the temperate mountains populated by a range of tropical groups. This intermediate position is expressed in the mixed language and cultural practices of its inhabitants. In addition to Aymara, they were fluent in Puquina, an Arawak-related dialect.
It is likely that the Oroncota Valley inhabitants suffered from the bold attacks that characterized the broader pan-regional Guarani-Chiriguano incursions. Indeed, there seems to be evidence that one of these advances took place in the town of Tarabuco to the north of Oroncota, possibly during the reigns of Tupac Inka Yupanqui and his son Huayna Capac (Canete 1797:420, cited in Susnik 1968:170; Saignes 1985:27). In response to these audacious attacks, Huayna Capac ordered the wholesale repopulation of the frontier region with military mitmaqkuna colonies in the areas of Tarabuco, Presto, and Pajcha (del Rio and Presta 1995; Julien 1995:107). In fact, it was during his rule that the Yamparas formed a strategic alliance with the Inka to expel the Guarani intruders. As a result of this treaty, the Yamparas were awarded preferential treatment. For instance, their chief, Francisco Aymoro, received a large number of warrior mitmaqkunas to assist him in defending the frontier fortifications (AGI, Charcas 44, ff. 151v, cited in Julien 1995:105). In reciprocity, this local lord was charged with distributing land to the newly arrived mitmaqkuna colonies, suggesting a scenario in which the alliance entailed imperial aid in combating the Chiriguanos. Undoubtedly, this treaty benefited both parties against the common enemy.
Despite the relevance of this region in the Inka imperial politics, few archaeological investigations have been conducted here. One exception is the early work by the German archaeologist Heinz Walter (1959a, 1962, 1966). Walter documented the architecture of the Oroncota center and developed the first regional chronology based on his excavations in the Valley of Icla. Another exception is the ceramic seriation proposed by Dick E. Ibarra Grasso for the entire southern Bolivian valleys (Ibarra Grasso 1973; Ibarra Grasso and Lewis 1986). More recently, John Janusek’s investigation in the adjacent region of Icla revealed the settlement trajectory and political developments in the valley, based on a pedestrian survey and excavations (Janusek et al. 1993-1996; Janusek 2008). Likewise, the work of Martti Parssinen in the Valley of Oroncota is important to understand its ethnic composition using ethnohistoric and archaeological data (Parssinen 1997; Parssinen and Siiriainen 2003). Combined, this body of research, including the results of my own excavations, makes it possible to identify three main cultural periods. These comprise the Early Yampara period (A.D. 400-800), the Classic Yampara period (A.D.
Table 4.1. Chronology of the Oroncota and Khosko Toro regions in comparison to other Andean regions
800-1300), and, during the Inka conquest, the Late Yampara-Inka period (A.D. 1300-1536). More details on the chronology and the ceramic assemblages for each cultural period can be found in other publications (Alconini 2008b, 2008c, 2010). Table 4.1 and Figures 4.3-4.6 offer a chronological comparison of the region with other cultural developments in the Southern Andes. With this background in mind, the survey results are presented below.
Figure 4.3. Early Yampara style: complete bowl with inner decoration (top) vessel (bottom).
Figure 4.4. Classic Yampara style. Bowls.
Figure 4.5. Yampara Presto Puno style. Jars and bowls.
Figure 4.6. Oroncota White Ware style. The graph shows painted and nonpainted variants (bowl and jar).