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Identifying Inka Military Installations

From my previous discussion on Inka architecture and function, it is clear that Inka constructions were often multifunctional, particularly in provincial settings. Consequently, drawing sharp distinctions between administration, defense, and ritual uses is often arbitrary and misleading

Examples of niched walls with double and triple body-size jambs

Figure 5.2. Examples of niched walls with double and triple body-size jambs. They are common in prestigious Inka buildings. Left, Aqllawasi of Koati in the Island of the Moon, Bolivia (Gasparini and Mar- golies 1980); center, the central court of Maukallaqta (Bauer 1991); right, Pilco Kayma in the Island of the Sun, Bolivia (Gasparini and Margolies 1980).

(Hyslop 1990; Morris 1991, 2004; Poma de Ayala 1956 [1613]). Different architectural units such as kallankas, kanchas, or rectangular constructions were combined for different purposes. For example, kallankas were common in fortified sites, where they functioned as temporary housing and barracks, but they were also found at religious and administrative sites. Forts had encircling walls, but so did important nonmilitary buildings (Hyslop 1990:154). Therefore, to trace in more detail the status and type of activities conducted in any Inka installation, additional factors must be taken into account. These include the type of and intensity of artifacts assemblages, the scale of investment, site location, differences in composition and arrangement, and complexity of design and degree of planning (Niles 1987a, 1987b).

Nevertheless, some Inka buildings stand out for their clear military role, making it possible to identify features common to this type of installation. Based on existing research on defensive facilities, these features include: large zigzagging, concentric, or surrounding walls; interior platforms on the walls; long barracks (kallankas); a small number of qolqa warehouses; small oblique windows (or shoot-holes); low quality of masonry; “baffled” gateways; slings and bola stones; strategic location; and outposts and support installations (Hyslop 1990; Raffino 1993b; Raffino and Stehberg 1999). Therefore, the above features are reliable indicators of military function in the study of Oroncota and Cuzcotuyo.

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