Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Lyle Konigsberg

Committee Members

Graciela Cabana, Richard Jantz, Walter Klippel, Chad Black


The Inka Empire, known as Tawantinsuyu to those who lived there, achieved an imperial scale in less than one century. Since the Spanish Conquest, a tremendous corpus of literature has been published on the Inka by scholars representing multiple disciplines; these include relatively recent contributions from Andean bioarchaeologists.

This study contributes to Inka scholarship and an overarching bioarchaeology of empire through the bioarchaeological investigation of phenotypic variability of individuals recovered from locales which had been incorporated by the Inka. Few imperial edicts altered the Andean settlement landscape more than the Inka’s diverse resettlement strategies. Archaeological and ethnohistorical evidence suggests that some communities incorporated by the Inka were populated with individuals relocated by imperial resettlement policies while other communities were not incorporated into the Inka’s complex resettlement network at all.

To examine the biological effects of Inka resettlement on population structure, craniometric data of 552 individuals from nine archaeological sites in Peru were examined. These sites include four non-Inka samples (n=237) which were used to examine pre-Inka population variation. Five Inka samples include three coastal locales (Huaquerones, 57AS03, and Pachacamac) and two sites from the sierra (Colmay and Machu Picchu) (n=315). A model-bound biological distance analysis was conducted using craniometric variables. Data were fit to an unbiased R Matrix (after Relethford and Blangero [1990]) to examine population heterogeneity, the amount of among-group variation, and estimates biological distances between groups.

Results indicate several apparent patterns regarding the population structure of the sample. Demarcation between coastal and highland groups is noted; however, the Inka sites Colmay and Machu Picchu appear to deviate from the expected highland cluster. In addition, genetic heterogeneity is present at the sites of Ancón, Machu Picchu, Colmay, and Pachacamac while all remaining sites appear more homogeneous. Individuals from the Inka sites of Huaquerones and 57AS03 do not appear to have been resettled while the populations from Machu Picchu, Colmay, and Pachacamac appear to have been moved by the Inka. Overall, results from the biological distance analysis suggest that the Inka employed a nuanced approach to population resettlement which altered pre-existing population structure patterned along an altitudinal gradient.

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