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Guided by the research questions, in this chapter the nature and evolution of the Cuzcotuyo complex were examined, as well as the range of activities pursued in the stronghold. The excavations revealed that the center was constructed on top of an earlier indigenous settlement. This pre-Inka occupation took the form of a scattered artifact distribution in the southeastern portion of the main building (underneath Room-4 and Room-5). It contained ceramics in the local Manchachi Slate on Red style mixed with utilitarian pottery, perhaps representing the remains of an extant domestic occupation. This indicates that the Inka state sought to establish the stronghold above an existing indigenous settlement, possibly as a strategy to achieve political legitimization. The fact that local ceramic variants persisted during the Early Inka period suggests an occupational continuum and, therefore, the incorporation of the natives in the defensive tasks sponsored by the state.

We also identified two phases of occupation after the Inka conquest (Table 7.6). The Early Inka phase was marked by the erection of the main installation and the defensive wall, along with celebratory events in the plazas targeted at indigenous groups as valuable allies.

In comparison, the Late Inka phase witnessed important changes as response to the increasing episodes of violence along the frontier. After a broad episode of destruction by fire, the main building complex was architecturally renovated, and some areas were further expanded or segmented. Furthermore, some entrances were also blocked to enhance defense. Despite the growing defensive concerns, this second phase witnessed the selective incorporation of some Guarani-Chiriguano factions through diplomacy and celebratory events.

Altogether, we identified five main types of activities that varied in intensity, highlighting the multifunctional character of the complex. By far, the dominant function was defense, clearly materialized in the architecture of the site. We also found that the soldiers temporarily sheltered in

Central Cuzcotuyo Building

Attached Structures


Eastern Plaza

Twin Rooms (Room-5)

Added rooms (Room-4)

Line of Four





Private rituals (Structure-15)







Residence (Structure-13)

1. Pre-Inka occupation (Dates unknown) Early Mancha- chi Slate on Red ceramic assemblage

Scatter of local pottery below the Inka


Scatter of local pottery below the Inka foundations

Single occupation; refuse with pottery, food, and bones remains

Single occupation; use surface with broken storage vessels

Single occupation; scattered sherds

2. Early Inka occupation (?-A.D. 1480) Early Mancha- chi Slate on Red ceramic assemblage

Midden from public celebrations

Rough stone pavement, associated with hearth

Artificial clay layer, associated with the foundations

Midden from public celebrations outside the stone ushnu platform

Stone receptacle with a yellow clay floor


platform associated with a hearth

3. Late Inka occupation (A.D. 1480-1536) Late Parapeti Ungulate ceramic assemblage

Yellow clay layer covering the earlier midden

Construction, few sherds

Renovation episode with yellow clay layer; no cultural artifacts

Yellow clay layer and few sherds

Midden with Guarani- Chiriguano pottery covering earlier occupations

Yellow clay layer mixed with gravel; it sealed earlier levels

Abandonment followed by architectural renovation

the military barrack engaged in food consumption, leaving behind the remains of broken or unfinished weapons (that is, stone boleadoras, bolas, and dyed wood bow fragments). Judging by the remains, some of these warriors had nonlocal origins. Similarly, along the defensive wall were piles of bola stone weapons, and inside the main wall gateway the use of a hearth indicates that the sentinels prepared and consumed food while on guard duties. However, Cuzcotuyo had a limited residential occupation considering the reduced number of dwellings. Judging by the excavation of one of these, they were used transiently. Although it is possible that additional temporary camps were constructed with organic material, Cuzcotuyo did not house a permanent large population. Despite the limited residence, we found consistent evidence for ceremony and feasting as political strategies of annexation. Whereas in the Early Inka phase the indigenous allies (using Manchachi Slate on Red pottery) were the favored guests, in the Late Inka phase there is a shift considering the inclusion of Guarani-Chiriguano factions either as participants or trading partners. In these events, local allies played an important role. Outside the main building, there were more private forms of ritual, as in the chamber holding a stone receptacle. Supplementing these activities was storage. However, the limited number of warehouses adjacent to the main building suggests that they were purposefully protected. There were no additional storage units in the neighboring settlement, indicating that the farming production was only intended to supply the immediate needs of the garrison. The last activity was a specialized form of storage (perhaps for more valuable goods) conducted in the rooms of the main building.

Taking into consideration the nature and intensity of these five activities, it does not seem likely that Cuzcotuyo was a commercial gateway or the center of an Inka province. The Cuzcotuyo complex did not attract local populations either. We found no evidence of native groups engaged in large-scale productive activities like agriculture or craft production, and no valuable Inka goods were distributed or used in the complex. The Cuzcotuyo complex was a frontier garrison defended by indigenous allies affiliated to the state, an activity supplemented with calculated efforts of political diplomacy. Judging by the presence of altiplanic material in the military barrack, this fortification had the support of the state armies whenever required. At some point, the garrison was progressively abandoned. It is likely that in the Colonial era, Spanish troops visited the site during the war against the Chiriguanos, in light of the presence of oxidized iron nails and broken glass.

To sum up, despite the heavy emphasis on defense and control, part of the political agenda of the empire encouraged less violent forms of interaction with local Guarani-Chiriguano groups. Through feasts and limited trade, the Inka representatives sought to cement new alliances and form broader defense coalitions with local allies, including some Guarani-Chiriguano tribal segments. In this process, local frontier allies played a critical role considering the similar cultural traditions and ways of life. The factional leadership political structure of the Guarani-Chiri- guanos (and other Guaranized segments) might have guided the Inka to confront the most recalcitrant groups, while co-opting those dwelling in the adjoining areas. The incorporation of these factions not just through war and confrontation but also with diplomacy could have constituted the basis for the continuous expansion of the Inka empire beyond its borders. From the perspective of the Chiriguanos, this strategy also ensured the continuous negotiations with the Inka and their representatives, as part of broader cycles of alliance and conflict.

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