Local Art and the Inca State

Start: Jul 16, 2014 04:00 PM

Location: Room 209, UCL Institute of Archaeology

Diaguita vessel

Paola Gonzalez will give a talk on how Inca culture influenced Diaguita material culture in Chile at the Institute of Archaeology on 16 July.

Paola's presentation is entitled 'Local Art and the Inca State: Analysis and interpretation of Diaguita-Inca visual art from structural, contextual and spatial perspectives' and all are welcome to attend.


The Diaguitas were a series of chiefdoms in Northern Chile and Argentina who were incorporated into the Inca Empire in the later 15th century leading to the incorporation of some elements of Inca decorative styles within Diaguita material culture. Paola Gonzalez has analysed ceramic collections, rock art and dwelling sites in the Elqui, Limarí and Choapa valleys (in the semi-arid regions of Northern Chile) to assess the decorative pattern of Diaguita-Inca art (Diaguita phase III) from a structural perspective.

Symmetry analysis is used to compare how different groups (Diaguitas, Incas, Inca Paya and Pacaje or Saxamar) contributed to and altered the iconography of Diaguita during phase III and to detect stylistic variations within the Diaguita culture.  There is a notable transference of Inca-Cuzqueño decorative patterns in the representational universe of the Diaguitas. This diffusion of Inca iconography is not simply a decorative aesthetic, as it reflects political intentions and state ideology. The material culture is analysed in relation to its archaeological context (e.g. mortuary and domestic) and in relation to ethnohistoric and ethnographic sources, in order to propose how the symbolic content relates to structures of Inca iconography such as quadripartite designs and the “double specular reflection” which depicts complex ideological concepts within Andean culture.


Paola Gonzalez is a Chilean archaeologist and anthropologist. She has broad experience in Andean archaeology, in particular, iconographic studies and Landscape Archaeology. Her most recent research focus is the Andean and Amazonic cultural relationship, in present and prehispanic times, specifically the South American tradition of shamanic art. She is currently developing studies in Peruvian Amazon, relating to Shipibo-Conibo concepts of art. Researcher of Fondecyt Proyect from 1995 to 2014. Author of “Visual Language of the Incas” (Archaeopress International Series N°1848), “Arte y cultura Diaguita Chilena: Simetría, simbolismo e identidad” (Ucayali Editores) and “Mining and National Monuments” (Ediarte S.A.). Vice-president of the Archaeology Associaton of Chile (2010-2013).

Any enquiries about the event may be directed to Bill Sillar or Miguel Fuentes.