In order to evaluate the nature of the Oroncota and Cuzcotuyo Inka installations, it was crucial to examine the associated architecture, the zona- tion and spatial distribution of the cultural assemblages. Mapping both Inka installations also helped in distinguishing different activity zonation, such as public plaza spaces, facilities for imperial administration, attached residences, or areas dedicated to storage and defense. Special attention was paid to assessing the evidence for military use, primarily through comparison with Inka sites elsewhere. As a pioneer in Inka architectural studies in the provinces, Hyslop (1990) already noted that it is difficult to distinguish forts from other types of Inka installations. Forts were often walled and contained shrines and kallanka rectangular halls, but so did many nonmilitary Inka centers. However, Inka forts should present a limited range of activities and a restricted distribution of imperial status goods. Often, they also had multipurpose functions. Architecturally, the following indicators are useful to identify an Inka military installation (see also Hyslop 1990; Raffino and Stehberg 1999): large zigzagging walls, interior platforms on the walls, long barracks (kallankas), a limited quantity of qolqas, small oblique windows (or shoot-holes), low quality of masonry construction, “baffled” gateways, sling and bola stones, outposts and support walled installations with few or no buildings, and strategic location. This information was supplemented with contextual information from the excavations.
Because no large Inka sites are known to be located directly to the east of the Khosko Toro region, we expected that of the two Inka centers, Cuzcotuyo (located at the frontier margins) would be the one exhibiting prominent defensive functions. Conversely, Inka provincial administrative centers—although with some defensive features—were often characterized by more refined architecture, larger plaza spaces and storage facilities, and a wider range of activities.