Inca ushnus: Aims and Objectives

AltarniocThe aims are to improve knowledge and understanding of the practical and symbolic principles underlying ushnu construction, the rationale for their placement and function within the landscape, and the activities that took place on them.

The specific objectives are to:

  1. Gain insights into i) those aspects of the ushnu construct which appear fundamental to the process of Andean archaic state formation, ii) how the ushnu concept was drawn on and re-interpreted by the Incas, and iii) how the ushnu functioned in maintaining state integrity and stability at the margins of an expanding empire.
  2. Establish and test a multi-disciplinary methodology that may have widespread applicability for other studies of landscape and environment.
  3. Compare and rationalise the geoarchaeological, archaeological, spatial data and interpretations with accounts from ethnohistoric sources describing the activities associated with ushnus and present-day ethnographic sources, in particular oral histories and the relationships between traditional agronomic practices and ritual activities.
  4. Reconstruct the distribution of ushnu platforms in the study areas and record the surrounding geomorphological, pedological, hydrological and ecological context. IMG
  5. Develop a model of the Inca reading of their landscape that integrates ushnu structures, religious sites and shrines.
  6. Record and analyse the visual environment (view-sheds) from each platform and the intervisibility between different kinds of ushnu and landscape features. 
  7. Identify the construction techniques, provenance the construction materials and characterise the composition of a sample of ushnus.
  8. Recover, describe and analyse the artefacts and ecofacts associated with ushnus.
  9. Encourage discussion amongst colleagues and interest groups of the role of archaeological museums as an educational resource, with particular emphasis on landscape visualisation and public outreach.

  CIMG

 

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