Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2015

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors



First Advisor

Gerardo Gutierrez

Second Advisor

Douglas Bamforth

Third Advisor

Kim Malville


Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing, archaeology, and ethnohistory are used to study the Cuzco to Vilcashuaman portion of the Chinchaysuyu Inka Road. The purpose of this analysis is to determine whether the Chinchaysuyu road from Cuzco to Vilcashuaman was built following the economic principles of Least Cost Path Analysis (LCA) or if it was built to accommodate locations of cultural significance. Drawing on the criteria presented by Rademaker et al. 2012; White (2012); and Howey (2007), I created several LCAs in order to find the most predictive Least Cost Path (LCP). Research has led me to believe that the location of Inka roads was influenced by factors that cannot be well modeled by a LCA constrained to solely the ecological factors of the environment because of cultural and historical particularities associated with the construction of the Inka road system according to the need of the imperial hegemonic administration. By researching this road, I wish to examine the larger role of the Inka road system as a communication infrastructure vital to maintaining and expanding the imperial hegemonic administration of the Inka Empire over a vast track of the Andes. Ultimately, I hope the multivariate LCAs I created in this thesis will further the assessment of LCA as a suitable method of locating ancient routes.