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El Pedregal Defense Outpost

As a small defensive outpost of nearly 1 ha, El Pedregal (S-234) was strategically located in a small cavity of the eastern Plateau cliffs. Access was extremely difficult. The overgrown cacti and sheer topography made it difficult to map or even collect surface cultural materials (Figure 5.13). In contrast to the Oroncota complex, the stone masonry at El Pedregal outposts was simple and reflected less execution. The walls were linear without jambs on the niches, consisting of double-coursed and partially cut stone blocks. The lintels were made of unmodified or partially cut stone slabs. Unlike other standardized Inka buildings, these niches were not symmetrically located, and one can still see the coat of clay mixed with straw in some. Stylistically, this kind of construction fits the intermediate style. One striking difference with the Oroncota complex was El Pedre- gal’s plaza configuration. There were no walls segregating or restricting access to it (Figure 5.13). The plaza was an open space, with the rest of the structures distributed around it. At the center was a small ushnu rock carved with few step designs. Its presence underscores the importance of ushnus in Inka military installations and, consequently, the religious dimension of Andean warfare (Hyslop 1990:189).

Regarding spatial organization, El Pedregal comprises three main building groups (Figure 5.13). The first was formed by two rectangular structures linked by a common wall (Room-7 and Room-8) found

Above and facing: Figure 5.13. El Pedregal Inka outpost (S-17) on a hidden location of the Pucara Plateau.

adjacent to the eastern ridge that overlooks the Pilcomayo River. Conceivably, they facilitated surveillance since both rooms contained rectangular platforms (1 m of altitude) attached to the inner walls. As suggested by Hyslop (1990), perhaps these platforms facilitated protected visibility during turmoil. The second group contained isolated rectangular kal- lanka halls resting on top of artificial platforms, and they were unique for

the larger number of wall niches (from three to six). In comparison, the third kind of structures comprised a few residential compounds. They were formed by rectangular rooms with wall niches and were distributed around adjoining patios. In some cases, the patios rested on low platforms, whereas in others, natural boulders defined the patio areas. All of them had elevated doorways reaching almost 1 m above the ground level. These features might have been extremely useful to optimize protection and block access to potential intruders. Taking into account the limited number of residential compounds, it is evident that the defensive force residing at the site was small. Perhaps the soldiers lived in the adjacent settlements, only to withdraw to the site whenever necessary (Hyslop 1990:185). Another possibility is that additional residences were constructed using organic material, although the limited space in the canyon gap makes this unlikely.

Of the three Inka sites in the Oroncota system, El Pedregal displayed the most defensive features. The most prominent characteristic is its strategic, hidden location. Other features include perimeter walls, internal platforms on the structures, low architectural investment, medium-size barracks, lack of storage qolqas, and elevated doorways. All these features reinforce the interpretation that El Pedregal was a small strategic outpost of the Pucara Plateau, rather than a large military garrison.

 
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