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The Outer Residential Compounds

The Oroncota building complex lacked substantial residential occupation. Although most Inka provincial centers did not have sizable residential areas, others like Huanuco Pampa displayed more residential areas adjacent to public spaces. It is likely that these residences housed bureaucrats and craft specialists. These spaces were also used to temporarily house the mit’a workers working for the state (Mackey 2010). In Oroncota, we only documented two residential compounds to the northeast of the plaza. Each was formed by decayed rectangular rooms built with rough field- stone. This architectural simplicity contrasts with the great elaboration of the dressed stones in the plaza complex. However, this residential area had a relatively high density of surface remains. To learn about the complex’s residents, we excavated one complete residential compound composed of two rectangular rooms (Room-2a and Room-2b), and the adjacent outer area. We dug a total of three units (12 m2). One unit was set in each of the two rooms, and the third, outside (Figure 5.1).

The excavation in Room-2b revealed a single occupation episode. The floor was not prepared, nor was there an artificial fill. The associated features included a fireplace and a set of undecorated sherds. Beneath the occupational surface was the natural bedrock. Considering that three thin layers of ash were identified, it is very likely that the cooking hearth was used for a consistent time. In addition, the presence of burned bone fragments, charred plant materials, and charcoal inside the hearth pit is consistent with food preparation activities. To the north lay one charred corn kernel and two camelid bones. AMS analysis of a vegetal carbon sample from this hearth produced a calibrated date of A.D. 1431-1452 at

Secondary burial in the domestic residence (Room-2a) outside the Oron cota building complex. The figure also shows the western stratigraphic profile

Figure 5.7. Secondary burial in the domestic residence (Room-2a) outside the Oron cota building complex. The figure also shows the western stratigraphic profile.

one sigma error (68 percent confidence) (Arizona University AMS Lab No. AA36938) (Figure 5.6; Table 5.1). The associated ceramics from this occupation consisted of local Yampara Presto Puno style, but also included foreign Inka and Pacajes wares from the circum-Titicaca region (Albarracin-Jordan and Mathews 1990). Some of the utilitarian pottery was even made with a nonlocal micaceous paste. After this occupational episode, the structure was abandoned.

The second room of the compound (Room-2a) was also excavated. The small size of this room (5 x 3 m) made it possible to expose most of the inner area. We identified two main occupational phases. The first phase involved the construction of a floor on top of the sterile soil. In the second, the area was used, as evidenced in the deposition of few sherds and a spindle whorl. Stylistically, the utilitarian sherds had a high concentration of mica and sand, a technology common in the farther highlands. In the southeast corner, we recovered the remains of a secondary burial. It consisted of an isolated cranium of a mature individual buried in a pit full of ash. It also had two scapulae carefully arranged horizontally, and a handful of broken bones (Figure 5.7). The absence of most of the body parts and the thoughtful arrangement of the cranium and scapulae suggest reburial practices in a residential context. To the north was a small, circular stone mortar. Whatever the initial function of this room was, it later changed to become a funerary space. The practice of deliberately preserving the cranium as part of a reburial is nonlocal, particularly considering that in the region the use of ceramic urns and stone cists was the norm. The fact that this residential compound had access to foreign decorated and utilitarian pottery associated with the circum-Titicaca highlands also suggests that the compound residents did not have local origins or that they had privileged access to nonlocal wares.

The excavation in the outer space behind one of the rooms revealed a trash area. It contained ash mixed with burned organic material, sherds, charred bone fragments, and a couple of burned maize kernels. Although bone faunal remains were scarce in the broader Oroncota complex, this residence refuse held a comparatively large faunal assemblage, including camelids (Table 5.4). However, no lithic remains were recovered (Table 5.5). The lack of any internal stratigraphy suggests that the refuse disposal took place over a relatively short period of time. In the midden, the sherds from decorated serving vessels comprised Inka Cuzco style arybaloids decorated with rows of diamonds and triangles (Style B) and Pacajes Inka

Table 5.4. Mean distribution of animal bones in the distinct architectural areas of the Oron- cota Inka complex

Architectural area

Undefined

Camelids

Rodents

Fish

Total

Kallanka (U-5, U-6)

19.5 (44.3%)

13 (29.5%)

11.5 (26%)

44 (100%)

Ext. North (U-8)

8 (100%)

8 (100%)

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

20.7 (71%)

8.3 (28.7%)

29 (100)

Room-1, Twin Kallankas

8.5 (94.4%)

0.5 (5.6%)

9 (100%)

(U-12, U-13)

Room-10 (U-9)

2 (100%)

2 (100%)

Room-9 (U-11)

5 (100%)

5 (100%)

Room-16 (U-10)

Qolqa-3 (U-7)

5 (83%)

1 (16.7%)

6 (100%)

Total

68.7 (66.7%)

21.8 (21.2%)

1 (1%)

11.5 (11.2%)

103 (100%)

Note: The table shows the 2 x 2 m excavation units in each area.

Table 5.5. Distribution of lithic tools in the Oroncota Inka complex

Flakes

Polisher

Mortar

Stone

beads

Trylobytes

Grinding St.

Not def.

Structure

(1-2-6)

(6)

(20)

(22)

(23)

(26)

(10-18)

Total

Main building

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

1

1

Room-1, Twin

1

1

Kallankas (U-12, U-13)

Room-9 (U-11) Attached Facilities

3

2

3

8

Ext. North (U-8)

1

1

Qolqa-3 (U-7)

1

1

2

Total

3

1

2

1

1

3

2

13

(Saxamar) bowls with fine, stylized black llama designs. Compared with the rest of the excavated rooms of the residential compound, and even with other areas of the complex, this refuse displayed a high density of serving vessels (Table 5.3). The relative frequency of Inka-related pottery in the form of decorated arybaloids and bowls also suggests that the residents maintained privileged access to these imperial foreign materials.

They also sponsored food-serving activities and celebrations in their own residence. Below the midden was the natural bedrock.

Although it is possible that Inka and Pacajes ceramics were obtained through long-distance trade sponsored by the state, it is more probable that this compound was inhabited by Pacajes mitmaqkuna or yanacona populations. There are three main reasons to assume the nonlocal origin of the residents. First, research conducted outside the circum-Titicaca highlands does not report Pacajes pottery as a sumptuary good or as part of a prestige-goods economy. Second, the Pacajes, according to ethnohis- toric and archaeological research, were important mitmaqkunas from the highlands sent by the Inka to the Southern Andes as colonists, middlemen, and state representatives. Whereas in coastal Arica Pacajes populations were found in association with Inka installations (Santoro and Munoz 1995; Santoro et al. 2010; Silva 1992-1993), in Tarabuco (roughly 40 km from Oroncota) they were sent as mitmaqkunas (Barragan Romano 1994; Julien 1995; Langer Detlef 1989). Third, the mortuary practices related to the highland polities, as well as the presence of utilitarian pottery utilizing nonlocal technology, support this assertion. Therefore, it is very likely that a small group of Pacajes were moved to Oroncota as the imperial administrators.

 
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