The Western Plaza

In an area adjacent to the main entrance of the Western Plaza, we excavated two units (8 m2). To our surprise, this courtyard revealed a relatively long occupational sequence with two main occupational episodes (Tables 7.1 and 7.2).

Early Inka Occupation

In this initial phase, we recovered an L-shaped stone platform resting on the sterile matrix inside the Western Plaza, probably an early ushnu shrine. To learn about its construction technique and associated features, we excavated its interior. We found out that the floor had been first leveled and paved with stone blocks, followed by the construction of the lateral platform walls. Then, the inner space was covered by a thick matrix of yellow clay used as fill, with no other associated features (Figure 7.2). Around the ushnu platform, we recovered the remains of an extensive

Table 7.1. Shifts in the distribution of ceramic styles in the Western Plaza, Cuzcotuyo complex

Midden

Utilitarian

Parapeti

Ungulate

Condorillo

Crushed

Sherds

Corrugated

Ceramics

Manchachi Slate on Red

Brushed

Ceramics

Finger

Impressions

Total

Late

  • 131
  • (40.68%)
  • 30
  • (9.32%)
  • 85
  • (26.4%)
  • 32
  • (994%)
  • 4
  • (1.24%)
  • 39
  • (12.11%)
  • 1
  • (0.31%)
  • 322
  • (100%)

Early

  • 51
  • (75.0%)
  • 1
  • (1.47%)
  • 15
  • (22.06%)
  • 1
  • (1.47%)
  • 68
  • (100%)

Note: x2(6)>22.46, p<0.01.

Table 7.2. Shifts in the distribution of pottery temper in the Western Plaza, Cuzcotuyo complex

Midden

Sand

Mica

Slate

Selected

Crushed

Sherds

Total

Late Midden

  • 47
  • (14.60%)
  • 6
  • (1.86%)
  • 16
  • (4.97%)
  • 28
  • (8.70%)
  • 225
  • (69.88%)
  • 322
  • (100%)

Early Midden

  • 20
  • (29.41%)
  • 1
  • (1.47%)
  • 30
  • (44.12%)
  • 1
  • (1.47%)
  • 16
  • (23.53%)
  • 68
  • (100%)

Note: x2(4)>18.47, p<0.01.

trash area that contained ceramic remains (Figure 7.3). Two styles were dominant. The first included local Manchachi Slate on Red pottery, in addition to undecorated jars. The second variant comprised Guarani-related ceramics. Because of the presence of red slip and crushed sherds in the clay as temper, it was named Condorillo Crushed Sherds (Brochado Pro- enza 1973; La Salvia and Brochado 1989). There were also utilitarian wares with heavily brushed surfaces and pastes with ground sherds as temper. Therefore, if the stone platform was used as a ritual ushnu, its surroundings were dedicated to public ceremony involving food consumption in local serving vessels.

Although varying in construction, shape, and technology, ushnu platforms were common in plazas of main Inka administrative centers. Considering the defensive nature of Cuzcotuyo, its use emphasizes the pivotal importance that ushnu shrines played in wider processes of political negotiation, frontier annexation, and acculturation (Gasparini and Margolies 1980; Gifford et al. 2002; Ogburn et al. 2009). As thrones of the Inka ruler,

The Western Plaza located in the Cuzcotuyo plaza complex. The graph shows the ushnu wall (Unit 3) and the fill within

Figure 7.2. The Western Plaza located in the Cuzcotuyo plaza complex. The graph shows the ushnu wall (Unit 3) and the fill within.

ushnu platforms embodied the state authority in the often-contested imperial margins.

 
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