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This article addresses Inca state formation in the central highlands of Peru. Using ethnohistoric materials and new archaeological survey data from three areas surrounding Cuzco, the capital of the Inca empire, we argue that rapid Inca expansion after C.E. 1400 was made possible by long-term processes of state formation and regional consolidation. From C.E. 1000-1400, a centralized state developed in the Cuzco Valley, extending its direct administrative control over numerous neighboring groups. Less powerful neighboring polities accepted Inca adm nistration early on, perhaps even n tiating Inca patronage. Strong rivals to Inca control maintained their independence, at times depopulating intermediate areas and settling in defensive sites to protect settlements and resources. Finally, groups of intermediate complexity used alliances and violence to align themselves with the strongest regional competitors. Such variability in regional integration strategies reveals how Inca state formation processes influenced later patterns of imperial conquest and administraton. [Keywords: inca, state formation, imperialism, archaeology, ethnicityl