Late Yampara-Inka Period (A.D. 1300-1536)
In this last period, the k-means analysis shows continuity in the site congregations. This was manifested in the maintenance of the four settlement clusters, with two of them still in each zone (Figure 4.14). However, the main difference is that a substantial number of sites were added to those in the Plateau. Consequently, the average site space of 200 m recorded earlier for this zone was no longer the minimum. Instead, the average distance fell to nearly half (100 m). This situation contributed to the tight clustering pattern that characterized this period (Figure 4.18).
What factors favored the formation of such a compressed pattern in the Plateau? Although it is possible that the grouping tendencies observed in the Pucara were only a response to restricted water resources, other explanations are feasible. Since the reduction in the distance between sites also implies a decrease of the immediate economic support zone, other socioeconomic factors, such as the need for more social interaction, better pooling labor conditions, or even less use of “in-fields," should also be taken into account.
In contrast, the settlement congregations in the Valley zone remained about the same, with only a few new sites. This shows that despite the fact that most Valley sites were multicomponent and occupied over consecutive periods, there were few changes in the existing settlement structure. In fact, a similar average site distance persisted (0.5-2.5 km). I suspect that population growth in the Valley was accommodated by an increase in the average size of the sites, a situation that explains why so few new settlements were added during this period.
To further evaluate this possibility, sites that exhibited only one period of occupation (mono-component sites) were analyzed to avoid the
Figure 4.18. Minimum distance of 200 m between settlements in the Late Yampara- Inka period.
Figure 4.19. Site size increase over time in sites occupied only in one period (Oroncota region).
difficulty of examining sites occupied in multiple periods. The results showed only a slight size increase in the Late Yampara-Inka period, in relation to the earlier occupations (Figure 4.19). Therefore, the distinct economic factors shaping the site organization of the Valley and the Plateau can be explained by the different land quality and agricultural uses. It is documented that to diversify their crops, some intermediate valley residents often maintained two or more plots of land in different areas. This was achieved by building a temporary residence (or estancia) to facilitate the control of distant plots of land. Although this may have been the case, we did not find conclusive archaeological evidence of this practice in Oroncota.
The fact that the Valley floor cannot be easily accessed from the Plateau also supports the assumption that the Plateau inhabitants did not depend on the Valley surplus. Even though the Valley is within 5 km “as the crow flies," the extreme altitudinal gradient contributes to a significant increase in the actual walking distance, at least doubling the distance. To illustrate, approximately two days were required for our survey team to painstakingly climb the vertical cliffs of the Plateau on our way to the Inka complex of Oroncota. Also, the fact that microagricultural terraces were more common in the Plateau than in the Valley suggests different adaptive mechanisms were designed to optimize the agricultural production in each zone.