Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino

Cultures > Arid North > Inka in Chile


Early historians recount that around 1471, the Inka ruler Topa Inka Yupanki sought to expand his rule over Kollasuyu south of the Aconcagua River. Later his son, Wayna Kapac, extended Tawantinsuyu to its southernmost frontier, just south of the Maipo River in Central Chile. As the Inka conquered what is now Chilean territory, they came up against a variety of local cultures, which archeologists have named as follows (from north to south): Arica, Tarapacá, Atacameño, Copiapoe, Diaguita and Aconcagua. The Inka maintained their rule by making effective use of the principle of Andean reciprocity, although the conquest was not without armed conflicts. In the northern semi-desert, the Empire found close allies in the Diaguita, who helped the Inka to expand into neighboring areas, thereby extending the reach of their own culture over a vast region. In the mid-16th Century, indigenous groups witnessed the arrival of a host of new colonizers who came from Europe and would eventually destroy these ancient cultures.