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Plaza Layout and Access Patterns

According to Hyslop (1990), rectangular Inka plazas were generally aligned along an east-west axis to metaphorically reproduce the sunrise and sunset cycles as part of the imperial solar cult. In the Oroncota complex, the original shape of the plaza was slightly trapezoidal and enclosed by surrounding walls and structures (Nair 1999) (Figure 5.1). As expected, the orientation of the plaza and the rest of the adjoining structures followed a cardinal direction. Architectural studies conducted by Nair in the site (1999) have also revealed different episodes of construction of the main plaza building. Nevertheless, in comparison with other imperial plazas, the one in Oroncota was relatively small (roughly 0.3 ha). For example, the plazas at Huanuco Pampa (19 ha), Pumpu (24 ha), and Hatun Xauxa (50 ha) were significantly larger (D’Altroy 1992:107; Morris and Thompson 1985). The modest size and enclosed plaza layout in Oroncota suggest that it was used by a relatively small population.

As for accessibility patterns, and using Moore’s (1996) classification, the plaza in Oroncota was “enclosed” and surrounded by rectangular structures. The main entry was marked by a small double-jamb doorway in between the Twin Kallankas, which also served to restrict access to the main plaza (Figure 5.3). This layout also indicates that the center served a small population segment and that the plaza was utilized for a limited range of activities. Overall, the enclosed building configuration and cardinal directions of the plaza are features consistent with Inka administrative constructions seen elsewhere.

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