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Inka Site Location and Function

Three main Inka facilities were documented in the Oroncota Valley. Two were placed on the Pucara Plateau, including the Oroncota center (also known as Inkarry) and El Pedregal. The third, Inkarry Moqo, was on the lower Valley alluvium (Figure 4.14). By far, the most important facility was the Oroncota building complex considering its design and strategic location in the geographic centroid of the Plateau. It was also in close proximity to the two settlement congregations, while also overlooking the Pilcomayo River below (Figure 4.14). Given that the Plateau was already populated before the Inka arrival, such a deliberate location signals that the Inka established the Oroncota complex with reference to existing settlement trends. This further conveys the importance of the Oroncota center in wider processes of social and political interaction with surrounding populations.

A completely different type of location was chosen for El Pedregal outpost, also on the Plateau (Figure 4.14). This site is rather isolated and strategically hidden in a small gap of the Plateau’s eastern cliffs. This location indicates that its role in the settlement system was certainly not one of significant social or political interaction. Rather, El Pedregal served as a surveillance and defensive installation. It secured one of the Plateau’s entrances from potential invasions, and from this locale the entire Pilco- mayo River could be monitored as a main source of transportation and mobilization. As explained in more detail in the next chapter, the architecture and site layout also testify to the defensive character of El Pedregal.

The third Inka center was Inkarry Moqo, established on the northwestern portion of the lower Valley zone. This facility was located at an elevation adjacent to the Inka Pampa River. Behind the site extends the steep Pucara slopes. We did an opportunistic test pit in the plaza, considering that a complete pottery vessel was readily visible on the surface. This small excavation revealed the presence of complete decorated pottery vessels in the Early Yampara style, exposing a previous occupation area before the arrival of the Inka. This finding indicates that the Inka set up Inkarry Moqo in reference to an extant occupation. Nevertheless, this Inka building was not located in the middle of a previous population congregation. Although this may be due to the linear configuration of the settlements along the river, it is also possible that Inkarry Moqo did not constitute a center that facilitated broad social interaction. The site is located straddling what may have constituted a primary path that once led to the inaccessible Pucara Plateau. In close proximity was a rock art site.

At any rate, the strikingly different locations of the Inka facilities in light of the natural topography or population patterns indicate that each site had different but nevertheless complementary roles. Located in the Plateau’s center of gravity, and in between two main population congregations, the Oroncota center was used by the Inka to exercise social and regional political control. El Pedregal, by contrast, was built on a narrow depression of the eastern Pucara cliffs and fulfilled specialized functions involving control and surveillance. Inkarry Moqo, the third Inka building, was intended to exercise limited administrative control of the alluvial Valley floor. The restricted number of warehouses signals a limited storage capacity, and it is possible that part of the production was moved up to the Plateau.

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