Institute of Archaeology


Inka Ceramics

"A large, systematic study of Classic Inca ceramics from Cuzco is an important project that remains to be done" (Bauer 1999, 10). This initial response to Brian Bauer's challenge is researching changes in ceramic production in the Cuzco region during the emergence and expansion of the Inka Empire.

Excavations in the region surrounding Cuzco have revealed a high degree of variability in the fabric, form and decoration of Inka and immediately pre-Inka pottery (Rowe 1944, Lunt 1987, Bauer 1999). By reviewing ceramics from previously excavated sites in the Cuzco region developments in Inka pottery production and consumption will be analysed. This is partly based on pottery previously studied in relation to work of the Cusichaca and Raqchi Projects, and is also reviewing the under-studied assemblages from previously excavated sites around Sacsayhuaman, as well as material held in the Museo Inka of the University San Antonio Abad del Cuzco.

This research project aims to:

  • Develop a detailed description of key Inka pottery fabrics using ceramic petrography, with the aim of facilitating their identification from hand held specimens and where possible tracing the source of raw materials used in their production.
  • Study and document the range of techniques used in Inka pottery forming, decoration and firing and the range of forms and decorative styles produced.
  • Characterise assemblages of pottery from previously excavated sites in order to quantify the range of forms in use at these sites.

Related outputs

  • Ixer, R., Lunt, S., Sillar, B., Thompson, P. (2014). Microscopic Rocks and Expansive Empires: Investigating Inca Ceramics from Cuzco, Peru. Archaeology International, 17 122-136. doi:10.5334/ai.1702
  • Ixer R, Lunt S, Sillar B (2014). The use of andesite temper in Inca and pre-Inca pottery from the region of Cuzco, Peru. In M Martinón-Torres (Ed.), Craft and science: International perspectives on archaeological ceramics. Doha, Qatar: Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation http://dx.doi.org/10.5339/uclq.2014.cas.ch4