Incas in Central Chile

Cerro Grande de La Compañía hosting one of the southernmost fortresses the Inca Empire.

Inca rule in Chile was brief, it lasted from the 1470s to the 1530s when the Inca Empire collapsed. The main settlements of the Inca Empire in Chile lay along the Aconcagua, Mapocho and Maipo rivers.[1] Quillota in Aconcagua Valley was likely their foremost settlement.[1] The bulk of the people conquered by the Incas in Central Chile were Diaguitas and part of the Promaucae (also called Picunches).

Inca expansion

Huamán Poma de Ayala's drawing of the confrontation between the Mapuches (left) and the Incas (right)

The exact date of the conquest of Central Chile by the Inca Empire is not known.[2] It is generally accepted that Central Chile was conquered during the reign of Topa Inca Yupanqui and most early Spanish chronicles point out that conquest occurred in the 1470s.[2] Beginning with 19th century historians Diego Barros Arana and José Toribio Medina various scholars have pointed out that the incorporation of Central Chile to the Inca Empire was a gradual process.[2] Nevertheless, it is generally accepted that incorporation into the empire was through warfare which caused a severe depopulation in the Transverse Valleys of Norte Chico, the Diaguita homeland.[3]

One theory claims Central Chile was conquered by the Inca Empire from the east after Inca troops crossed the Andes at Valle Hermoso (32º22' S) and Uspallata Pass (32º50' S). This attack from the east would have been done in order to avoid the more direct but inhospitable routes crossing the Atacama Desert.[4] José Toribio Medina claimed in 1882 that the Incas entered Central Chile from both north and east.[4]

Troops the Inca Empire are reported to have reached Maule River and had a battle with Mapuches from Maule River and Itata River there.[1]

Battle of the Maule

Main article: Battle of the Maule

Southern border of the Empire

The Inca Empires southern border defined by Maule or Maipo River. Inca troops never crossed Bío Bío River.

The southern border of the Inca Empire is believed by most modern scholars to be situated between Santiago and Maipo River or somewhere between Santiago and Maule River.[5] Spanish chroniclers Miguel de Olavarría and Diego de Rosales claimed the Inca frontier lay much more to the south at the Bío Bío River.[5] Regardless of these differing claims on the frontier of the Inca Empire, Inca troops appear to have never crossed Bío Bío River.[6] As it appear to be the case in the other borders of the Inca Empire the southern border was composed of multiple zones.[2][6] First an inner fully incorporated zone with mitimaes protected by a line of pukaras (fortresses) and then an outer zone with Inca pukaras scattered among allied tribes.[6] This outer zone would have been located between Maipo and Maule rivers.[2][6]

Incan yanakuna are believed by archaeologists Tom Dillehay and Américo Gordon to have extracted gold south of the Incan frontier in free Mapuche territory. Following this thought, the main motive for Incan expansion into Mapuche territory would have been to access gold mines. Same archaeologists also claim all early Mapuche pottery at Valdivia is of Inca design.[5]


Diaguita society

The Incas influenced the Diaguitas who adopted pottery designs from Cuzco and Inca techniques in agriculture and metalworking.[3]

Mapuche society

See also: Mapuche history

Through their contact with Incan invaders Mapuches would have for the first time met people with state organization. Their contact with the Incas gave them a collective awareness distinguishing between them and the invaders and uniting them into loose geo-political units despite their lack of state organization.[7]

Road network

The Incas used an extensive road network in Chile as well as in the rest of the empire. North of Copiapó Valley the main difficulty for the Inca road system was the lack of water, south of Copiapó Valley the main difficulty was the uneven relief with many mountain ranges and valleys.[4] To deal with these problems the Incas adopted two strategies and built two north–south roads from Copiapó Valley to Maipo Valley each of these according a strategy.[4] One road, the Longitudinal Andean Inca Road (Spanish: Camino Inca Longidunal Andino),[8] went high in the Andes through the valley heads where the valleys were less deep.[4] The other one followed coastal plains.[4]

View of an Inca archaeological site at Cerro El Plomo, a mountain and Inca ceremonial centre in Central Chile.

The Longitudinal Andean Inca Road runs from the latitude of Huasco Valley north–south mainly along a series of geological faults (including Valeriano Fault).[8][9][10] From a latitude of 28° S to 38° S it this road runs above 4,000 m.a.s.l. close to the Argentine–Chilean border.[8][9][10] Around the latitude of Choapa Valley the road descends to around 2,000 m.a.s.l.[10] The Longitudinal Andean Inca Road is connected to a parallel Inca road in Argentina through several road that crosses the Andean water divide.[11] This road allowed to access several mining districts and had plenty of water. On the other hand, its climate was of a large diurnal temperature range and it was not accessible in winter due to snowfall.[4]

The coastal road allowed for a more straight north–south movement. It also enjoyed a less harsh climate than the Longitudinal Andean Inca Road and was accessible the all year round.[4] This road goes mostly ca. 30 km east of the Pacific Ocean but it also access the sea at some places. It was the route used by Diego de Almagro in 1536.[4]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 Bengoa 2003, pp. 37–38.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Leon, Leonardo (1983). "Expansión inca y resistencia indígena en Chile, 1470–1536" (PDF). Chungara (in Spanish). University of Tarapacá. 10: 95–115. Retrieved 25 December 2013.
  3. 1 2 Ampuero 1978, p. 45.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Stenberg, R.; Carvajal, N. (1988). "Red vial incaica en los terminos meridionales del imperio: Tramo Valle del Limarí–Valle del Maipo". In Dillehay, Tom; Netherly, Patricia. La frontera del estado Inca (in Spanish). pp. 153–1982.
  5. 1 2 3 Dillehay, T.; Gordon, A. (1988). "La actividad prehispánica y su influencia en la Araucanía". In Dillehay, Tom; Netherly, Patricia. La frontera del estado Inca (in Spanish). pp. 183–196.
  6. 1 2 3 4 Bengoa 2003, p. 39.
  7. Bengoa 2003, p. 40.
  8. 1 2 3 Stehberg 1995, p. 187.
  9. 1 2 Stehberg 1995, p. 195.
  10. 1 2 3 Stehberg 1995, p. 200.
  11. Stehberg 1995, p. 190.


This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 9/4/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.