Brief Ethnohistory of the Cuzcotuyo Stronghold

Cuzcotuyo was an advance fortification of the southeastern frontier that facilitated the surveillance of strategic resources and populations crossing the area. As a consequence, Cuzcotuyo became the target of constant Chi- riguano advances. After its destruction, ethnohistoric records document the efforts of the ruler Huayna Capac to rebuild this important fortification. They narrate that this sovereign had sent the famous captain Yasca to reconstruct and repopulate this stronghold. On his way to the region, Yasca enlisted men from the Collao, and, after some skirmishes, he took Chiriguano warriors captive. Afterward, he returned to the Cuzco capital (Sarmiento de Gamboa 1907 [1572]:165-166).

Another instance in which Cuzcotuyo is mentioned in the Colonial records refers to a declaration made by Francisco Aymoro, a local Yampara chief. As part of a legal dispute, this native lord declared to the Colonial authorities that this stronghold was under his administrative jurisdiction. He explained that the Inka ruler Huayna Capac had personally sent him a number of mitmaqkuna soldiers to support the defense of the region against the Chiriguano invasions (AGI, Charcas 44, ff. 151v, cited in Ju- lien 1995:105). As discussed previously, this scenario portrays a situation where a strategic alliance against a common enemy facilitated the mutual defense of this frontier segment.

Notwithstanding these Colonial records, there is no other information about the region’s original occupants. This absence might be partly due to the fact this frontier segment was not intensively occupied. In fact, the first Spaniards entering Charcas noted that the region was sparsely populated. For example, Susnik (1968:175) writes that “at the arrival of the Spaniards into the province of Charcas, this region was already depopulated.” She adds that “although there were a number of ancient Inka fortifications, the area was used by the later Chiriguano in their periodic incursions, considering they were part of important corridors of exchange.” Intriguingly, Susnik (1968) points out that the Sirionos, a Chiriguanized group, were responsible for the attacks perpetrated on the Inka frontier fortifications. In order to further illuminate the origin of the intruders, in the following section the regional archaeology is summarized.

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