The Cuzcotuyo Complex in the Region

With an average size of 4.7 ha, the fortification of Cuzcotuyo was the largest site in the surveyed zone (Figure 6.3). Like the rest of the sites, this facility was on the western flank of the Khosko Toro mountain. Two main areas characterized the site. The principal construction was the main plaza complex hidden in a thick forested patch resting on a lower crevice. Farther east along the upper mountaintop crest extended a long linear defensive wall (Figure 6.4). As for the lower building, it had a rectangular shape and different architectural areas. The main features were the two enclosed plazas, each surrounded by a set of rectangular rooms (Figure 6.5). Whereas the first courtyard was located to the east, the second was in the western portion. There were also two rows of rectangular rooms in the center, in between the two plazas. The first row had two large constructions separated by a narrow hallway opening directly to the Eastern Plaza. Immediately behind was the second row of constructions with four small rooms interconnected with each other by inner entrances, opening directly to the exterior through lateral doorways. None connected to the plazas. There were two additional small rooms inside the Eastern Plaza. Judging by the wall seams, it is likely that these rooms were part of a later addition.

Outside the building were nearly thirty circular storage qolqas, whereas to the north sat a few badly preserved rectangular residences (Figure 6.3). Farther south, we located an isolated kallanka hall of large dimensions, with few entrances and no windows. Most likely it was used as a military barrack based on the excavation results to be discussed later. Overall, the architecture in Cuzcotuyo was not elaborate, fitting the intermediate style. The walls were made with unmodified slabs or partially cut stone blocks. Trapezoidal entryways, niches, and windows were also common in the main plaza complex.

Above, about 300 m from the main plaza building, extended the long defensive wall that followed the elongated crest of the Khosko Toro mountaintop (Figure 6.4). With an extension of nearly 2 km, this wall constituted a formidable shield. In the best-preserved parts, it had a height of

Above and facing: Figure 6.3. Detail of the Cuzcotuyo Inka complex, Khosko Toro region. Based on Lee 1992; Parssinen and Siirainnen 2003.

1 m (and a thickness of 70 cm), although it is likely that it was originally much higher. Attached rectangular rooms were strategically distributed along the defensive wall, and, most likely, they served as outposts. The best-preserved outposts displayed trapezoidal windows and inner walled platforms to facilitate protected surveillance (Figure 6.3.). We also recovered piles of bola stone weapons on the western portion of the defensive wall. This suggests that the imperial warriors protecting the barricade expected to be attacked from the eastern flank (see also Lee 1992; Parssinen and Siiriainen 1998). Similar concentrations of sling stones are also reported for other Inka fortifications, providing further corroboration of their importance in Inka frontier combat (Gifford et al. 2002; Ogburn et al. 2009).

The defensive wall in Cuzcotuyo at the mountaintop. Photo taken by Vin cent Lee

Figure 6.4. The defensive wall in Cuzcotuyo at the mountaintop. Photo taken by Vin cent Lee.

Picture of the fortification of Cuzcotuyo in the Khosko Toro tropical mountains

Figure 6.5. Picture of the fortification of Cuzcotuyo in the Khosko Toro tropical mountains: the main plaza complex covered with thick vegetation (top), detail of one of the Western Plaza’s entrances (bottom).

Table 6.3. Distance between the main Inka settlements near the Cuzcotuyo complex

Inka Buildings


From Cuzcotuyo to Inkapirca-El Rosal

17 km

From Cuzcotuyo to Inkahuasi del Villar

24 km

From Inkahuasi del Villar to Inkapirca-El Rosal

23 km

From Inao to Cuzcotuyo

32 km

From Inao to Inkahuasi de Caraparicito

17 km


22.6 km

(Standard deviation)


In addition, we documented the remnants of an ancient road that crossed the Khosko Toro mountain. It intersected the elongated defensive wall. In this strategic pass, the checkpoint also served as the main gateway that granted access to the main installation below. Architecturally, this checkpoint took the form of a small rectangular room with two lateral doorways (Figure 6.3). One served to enter the stronghold, and the other as an exit. By building additional walled segments (that is, Sites 9 and 10), the Inka made concerted efforts to protect the weakest flanks of the mountaintop and adjacent hills (Figure 6.2). Altogether, this protective perimeter facilitated defense but also, perhaps more important, the control of traffic of peoples and goods moving along the frontier road.

A third set of Inka structures was identified on the lower western Pu- cara plain (Zone 4). Of these, the most prominent was a large walled hill with an encircling wall at least 1 m high (Site S-5c, a). In some sections, this wall followed a zigzagging design in order to accommodate the sheer topography. As in the Cuzcotuyo complex, a series of rectangular structures were regularly distributed along the walls, perhaps the remains of observatory outposts. Supplementing the regional defense, there were also adjacent wall segments (S-5a, S-5d). Farther to the north of the complex was the ancillary site of Inkapirca-El Rosal. Around 17 km from Cuzcotuyo, it was protected by an extensive perimeter wall and supplemented by attached outposts, inner platforms, “baffled” gateways, and small trapezoidal windows. Like Inkapirca-El Rosal, there were additional facilities in proximity to Cuzcotuyo beyond the study region that spread out every 17 km to 32 km (Table 6.3).

Similar walled hills are also described in other frontier regions. In the northern Inka borders, a string of fortresses were built against the recalcitrant Caranqui and allies. A paramount example is the Pam- bamarca complex (Hyslop 1990:164-171). From these, a set of walled installations stands out, strategically distributed across the landscape. Some of them were walled hills or moats, with no other features inside. Therefore, whether linear or not, walled hills were important protective features of the Inka imperial borders. Although actual combat might have taken place beyond the defense lines, strategic perimetral walls advertised the imperial presence, while also serving as retreat and control barricades.

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