It is well known that an important Inka strategy was to settle over indigenous centers or ceremonial places to locally legitimize their power. The first research question posed at the beginning of this chapter was whether the Oroncota facility was placed over a preexisting center. The excavations revealed no pre-Inka occupation in any of the excavated units. Taking
into account that the test units were systematically distributed in the most promising architectural areas, if there was an earlier occupation, it was certainly small. Thus, since it is unlikely that the Inka placed this center within a large local settlement, the choice of location responded to factors other than political legitimization.
The second question sought to evaluate the kinds of activities that took place inside this installation. The five activities identified at the Oron- cota building complex are indicative of its multifunctional character. One dominant activity was public ceremony and feasting, perhaps as part of political efforts of institutionalized reciprocity. These commensal celebrations took place outside the main gate of the building and in the Twin Kallankas opening into the plaza. The presence of Yampara styles suggests that local pottery was important in these politically charged celebrations. A second activity was restricted specialized activities that took place in the southern group of elaborate structures of the plaza complex, perhaps a specialized form of storage. These rooms with ornate body-size double- and triple-jamb niched walls had prepared floors but few cultural remains.
In comparison, the third activity consisted of productive tasks involving the processing of grains, possibly maize. Judging by the distribution of grinding stones, this activity took place in a group of large rectangular enclosures attached to the plaza complex and near the storage qolqas. Because of its importance in Inka-sponsored commensal celebrations, it is likely that these spaces were involved with the processing of chicha corn beer. A fourth activity discussed in this chapter was storage, represented by a limited number of qolqa warehouses outside the main building. This indicates a restricted storage capacity of the center, particularly considering that most warehouses were dispersed among the outlying settlements. A fifth activity, one of the least visible at Oroncota, was residential. Oron- cota never held a large population, but instead a few resident families of foreign origin as the administrators. Taking into account the nature and intensity of the architecture and artifact assemblages, the Oroncota building complex did not promote marked population nucleation around the site. Neither did it promote Inka craft items or high proportions of imported or high-value items. Therefore, Inka materials did not play the important role in the local political economy that they did in other parts of the empire.
The third question looked into long-term changes in the Oroncota complex. Two AMS radiocarbon dates show that this center was built and used around A.D. 1406-1479 (Figure 5.6; Table 5.1). In the main plaza complex, we identified two episodes of use, both associated with the Inka occupation. During the first phase, the Twin Kallankas, the plaza, and part of the southern rooms were built. At this time, the empire sponsored public celebrations in the Twin Kallankas, as revealed by the deposition of the refuse layers. In a second phase, the site was expanded with the deposition of a renovated clay floor covering the earlier occupation, and the group of rooms decorated with ornamental, body-size jamb niches was added to the south of the plaza. In comparison, the rest of the external facilities had a single occupational use. Although the fine architectural execution of the complex signals an intended long-term use, the excavation revealed that the occupation was not intense. Events related to the invasion of the Chiriguano tribes, or the later Spaniard expansion, might have forced the Inka to abandon this facility.
We also compared the Oroncota Inka complex with the two additional installations in the Valley. Serving as a small administrative center, the Oroncota center was constructed in the “pillowed-face” style with enlarged niches and elaborate double- and triple-size jambs. Neither one of the two other imperial installations matched the architectural beauty of Oroncota. Inkarry Moqo was a supplementary installation aimed at facilitating the administration of the lower Valley floor. Although the site was also built with dressed stone blocks, it lacked the architectural sophistication of the Oroncota complex. As for El Pedregal, it was a small defensive outpost built to protect one of the entrances of the Pucara Plateau. It had a lower architectural investment and hidden location, along with elevated doorways and surveillance platforms. Altogether, the different but supplementary functions of these three facilities indicate the importance of the entire Valley in the regional politics.
In the previous chapter, I argued that the settlement pattern data indicated that the Oroncota complex was an intrusive settlement into the local system. Nevertheless, this complex did not disrupt local population trends or attract settlement to it. The architecture and excavation data support this interpretation. Oroncota had unique Inka architectural components, rather than incorporating local construction patterns. That is, the site was built using exclusively Inka techniques, canons, and aesthetics.
Excavations revealed no prior occupation of the site, and there was no post-Inka occupation. As found in the regional survey, Inka artifacts in the main Oroncota complex were also rare, and the few Inka craft goods were restricted to small residences possibly inhabited by nonlocal Pacajes administrators.