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Group of Elaborate Rooms in the Plaza Complex

We also excavated a second group of rectangular rooms attached to the southern section of the plaza. These structures had fine elaboration and shared a common internal entrance from the plaza. This entrance was marked by two double-jamb doorways. As discussed, the rooms were finely elaborated as they exhibited full-size double- and triple-jamb

Table 5.3. Mean distribution of ceramics by function in the architectural areas of the Oroncota Inka complex

Structure

Storing/

Processing

Serving Vessels

Spindle

Whorls

Total

Kallanka (U-5,U-6)

21 (85.7%)

3.5 (14.3%)

24.5 (100%)

Ext. North (U-8)

40 (54.8%)

33 (45.2%)

73 (100%)

Residency (U-2, U-3, U-4)

33 (72.3%)

12.33 (27%)

0.33 (0.7%)

45.7 (100%)

Room-1, Twin Kallankas (U-12, U-13)

159.5 (71.4%)

64 (28.7%)

223.5 (100%)

Room-10 (U-9) Room-9 (U-11)

8 (100%) 5 (50%)

5 (50%)

8 (100%) 10 (100%)

Room-6 (U-10)

12 (92.3%)

1 (7.7%)

13 (100%)

Qolqa-3 (U-7)

58 (78.4%)

16 (21.7%)

74 (100%)

Total

336.5 (71.3%)

134.83 (28.6%)

0.3 (0.1%)

471.7 (100%)

Note: x2(14) = 25.18, p = 0.03. The table shows the 2 x 2 m excavation units in each area.

niches on the walls. They were also interconnected with each other by inner doorways. At the center, two large enclosures served as inner courtyards. To better understand the function and type of activities conducted at this lavish area, we excavated three of the rooms. One excavation unit (4 m2) was placed in the most ornate room (Room-10), whereas the second was located in the adjacent room (Room-9). The last unit was in one of the rectangular enclosures (Room-16). Contrary to my expectations, no significant remains were found in these spaces.

In all excavated units, we identified a single occupational surface associated with a constructed floor. The few artifacts recovered comprised broken utilitarian storage vessels and a handful of fragmented bones. One exception was Room-9, considering the presence of several grinding stones. Below, we found the sterile bedrock. However, the excavations were useful in revealing that below the two rooms closer to the ridge (Room-9 and Room-10), the original constructors had filled in the topographic irregularities with a reddish clay soil to expand the flattened surface. A similar artificial layer was also recovered throughout the plaza complex, although as a late episode. Considering that in the group of elaborate rooms such an ancillary layer represents the only occupational phase, it is likely that this area was constructed reasonably late.

In fact, the near absence of cultural remains, along with the careful preparation of the floor, also signals that this group of elaborate rooms had a distinctive use, perhaps involving specialized storage. Inka structures dedicated as warehouses have insulated floors and generally lack surface ceramics, probably because pottery vessels were seldom used to store goods. It is also possible that storage containers were removed immediately before the structures were abandoned (D’Altroy and Earle 1992:193).

Furthermore, Room-9 is the only construction with clear evidence of use. On the occupational surface, we recovered three grinding stones and two mortars, all concentrated in a corner. Yet the shape of the mortars was different from others recuperated in the complex. Whereas the grinding stones in the rest of the building were oval, the mortars in this floor had flattened surfaces to facilitate the fine pulverization of grains. Local residents call them moledores de pito. This room had also a few quartzite flakes and bone fragments. In fact, quartzite flakes were absent in the rest of the building. Altogether, this hints at the possibility that this room was used for special purposes, including specialized grain pulverization. At a broader level, the architectural elaboration of this group of rooms and the paucity of artifactual remains indicate a restricted set of activities conducted in this area of the complex.

 
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