Pukara

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Part of the complex Pukará de Quitor as seen from the inside

Pukara (Aymara and Quechuan "fortress", hispanicized spellings pucara, pucará) is a defensive hilltop site or fortification built by the prehispanic and historic inhabitants of the central Andean area (from Ecuador to central Chile and northwestern Argentina). In some cases, these sites acted as temporary fortified refuges during periods of increased conflict, while other sites show evidence for permanent occupation.[1] Emerging as a major site type during the Late Intermediate Period (c. 1000-1430AD), the pukara form was adopted in some areas by the Inca military in contested borderlands of the Inca Empire. The Spanish also referred to the Mapuche earthen forts built during the Arauco War in the 16th and 17th centuries by this term.

Today, the term is commonly found in toponyms of the Andes region, e.g. Andalicán, Pucará de Angol, Camiña, Cañete[verification needed], Nama, Quiapo, Tilcara, Turi, Pucara del Cerro La Muralla, Pukara of La Compañía, Pukara de Lasana, Pucará de Belén, Pukará de Quitor and Puka Pukara.

Number and location of Inca Pukaras[edit]

Inca pukaras were mostly located near the frontiers of the Inca Empire. The greatest concentration is in northern Ecuador, indicating that the Incas encountered the sternest resistance to their expansion there, an assumption confirmed by the early Spanish chroniclers of Inca history. North of Quito, the Incas met stiff opposition from several chiefdoms, collectively called the Pais Caranqui. The Pambamarca Fortress Complex was a group of pukaras built by the Incas to persecute the war against the Cayambe people. Other pukaras grouped around the town of Caranqui facilitated the final defeat of the chiefdoms and their incorporation into the Inca Empire. These wars probably took place between 1490 and 1520.

The table following is a rough count of the number and location of Inca pukaras which are known to archaeologists.


Country No. of Inca Pukaras[2]
Northern Ecuador 106
Southern Ecuador 27
Cuzco Region, Peru 5
Southeastern Bolivia 14
Northwest Argentina 15
Chile 17
Grand Total 184

Reference[edit]

  1. ^ editor., Álvarez Larrain, Alina, editor. Greco, Catriel,. Political landscapes of the late intermediate period in the southern Andes : the pukaras and their hinterlands. ISBN 3319767283. OCLC 1022085192.
  2. ^ Anderson, Amber M., "War and Conquest: Inca strategies and struggles in Northern Ecuador", https://www.academia.edu/11358577/War_and_Conquest_Inca_strategies_and_struggles_in_Northern_Ecuador, accessed 27 May 2017