18 April 2024 The Future is the Product of the Past

Researchers excavating the burial site along Caleta Vítor Bay in northern Chile found an Inka Tunic or unku

A recently published study, co-authored by a research professor at George Washington University, looks at the Inka Empire’s (also known as the Incan Empire and the Inca Empire) cultural and political apparatuses through the lens of a well-preserved clothing artifact found in a long-ago Chilean cemetery.

Researchers excavating the burial site along Caleta Vítor Bay in northern Chile found a tunic, or unku, which would have been worn by a man who commanded respect and prestige in the Inka Empire.

Unkus were largely standardized attire meeting technical and stylistic specifications imposed by imperial authorities.

The Caleta Vítor unku, however, goes beyond the strict mandates handed down by Inka leaders. While the artisans who fashioned this unku clearly adhered to imperial design standards, they also included subtle cultural tributes unique to their provincial homeland.

Whoever wove the Caleta Vítor unku lived hundreds of miles south of the Inka capital of Cusco in an area absorbed into the Inka Empire in the late 15th century. The weaver employed the techniques and unique style and imagery of an indigenous culture that existed long before the Inka conquest, creating a tangible symbol of provincial life in pre-colonial South America.

1 / 1Unku found in Caleta Vitor Bay. Top: sides A and B from the wearer’s point of view (photographs by Paola Salgado); bottom: illustration of the tapestry tunic from the weaver’s position and viewpoint (illustration by Paola Salgado).
1 / 1Unku found in Caleta Vitor Bay. Top: sides A and B from the wearer’s point of view (photographs by Paola Salgado); bottom: illustration of the tapestry tunic from the weaver’s position and viewpoint (illustration by Paola Salgado).

“It represents a study of a rare example of an excavated Inka unku tunic, whose context and technical features are providing an unprecedented understanding of imperial Inka influence in the provinces,” Jeffrey Splitstoser, an assistant research professor of anthropology at GW and a co-author of the study, said.

The study was published in the journal PLoS ONE.

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0280511

George Washington University 

Related Articles

Salt May Have Been Used as Money in Exchanges

24 March 2021

24 March 2021

Salt has always been a precious metal. Salt was needed in many areas, from the preservation of food to the...

Flint tools found in Tunel Wielki Cave, Poland, about half a million years old

9 October 2022

9 October 2022

Flint tools discovered over 50 years ago in the Tunel Wielki Cave (Maopolskie region) are not tens of thousands of...

Isles of Scilly Iron Age warrior buried with a mirror and sword was probably a woman

27 July 2023

27 July 2023

Archaeologists conducted a DNA analysis of the tooth enamel of a person who died more than two millennia ago on...

A New Late Ancient Necropolis Discovered on Hvar Island

10 June 2021

10 June 2021

The protective investigation in the garden of the Radoevi Palace in the town of Hvar on the Croatian island of...

Excavations at Körzüt Castle unearth 2 cuneiform inscriptions and a new Urartian Susi temple

25 October 2023

25 October 2023

During the rescue excavations carried out at the Körzüt Castle in the Muradiye district of Van province in eastern Turkey,...

The 3,200-year-old perfume of Tapputi, the first female chemist in history, came to life again

24 July 2022

24 July 2022

One of the scent formulas written in Akkadian on clay tablets by Tapputi, known as the world’s first female perfumer...

Freshwater and marine shells used as ornaments 30,000 years ago discovered in Spain

7 June 2023

7 June 2023

In Malaga’s Cueva de Ardales, up to 13 freshwater and marine shells that were carefully transformed by humans between 25,000...

Rare Hittite bracelet, 3300 years old, found by a farmer

28 March 2022

28 March 2022

A farmer in Turkey’s Çorum province discovered a rare 3,300-year-old ancient bracelet from the Hittite era while plowing his farm....

A 4,000-year-old treasure map of France’s

17 October 2023

17 October 2023 1

Overlooked for millennia, a rock fragment adorned with enigmatic inscriptions has emerged as a valuable “treasure map” for archaeologists. After...

With the withdrawal of Lake Van, the Urartian road to Çarpanak Island emerged

18 May 2022

18 May 2022

In Lake Van in eastern Turkey, the water level fell due to global warming, and a one-kilometer Urartian road connecting...

A rare 3,300-year-old wooden yoke found in northern Italy

30 October 2023

30 October 2023

After eight years of complex excavation, recovery, and restoration, a rare 3,300-year-old wooden yoke discovered in a Late Bronze Age...

The Oklahoma City Museum of Art will launch “The Painters of Pompeii” on June 26

23 June 2021

23 June 2021

A number of collection highlights will travel to North America for the first time as part of the exhibition The...

Scientists have discovered an ancient cemetery of flying reptiles roaming the Atacama desert of Chile 100 million years ago

7 April 2022

7 April 2022

In Chile, an unusual cemetery has been discovered that contains the well-preserved remains of prehistoric flying reptiles that flew over...

Researchers Finds Nearly 500 Ancient Ceremonial Sites in Southern Mexico with Lidar Technique

26 October 2021

26 October 2021

A team of international researchers led by the University of Arizona reported last year that they had uncovered the largest...

Researchers believe mass immigration to Orkney during the Bronze Age was mostly led by women

8 February 2022

8 February 2022

Researchers believe mass immigration to Orkney during the Bronze Age was mostly led by women.  Mass migration to Orkney during...