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The Ushnus of Condesuyos

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Chapter 22
The Ushnus of Condesuyos
Mariusz Zikowski

Introduction Peruvian highland region of Arequipa. During Inca times,

this Andean region was part of the Kuntisuyu, one of the
The study of ushnus discussed in this chapter was con- four quarters in which the Inca Empire (Tahuantinsuyu)
ducted in the context of the Condesuyos archaeological was divided (see Fig. 8.1) Specifically, the area under study
project.1 This research project focused on the study of high was part of a province known as Cunti or Condesuyus,2
altitude areas, most of them over 3500 m above sea level which was supposedly part of the Chiefdom (seorio) of
(masl) surrounding the snowy mountain peaks of Coropuna Condes.3
(6425 masl), Solimana (6093 masl) and Firura (5498 masl), The exact territorial boundaries of this very small
located in the provinces of Condesuyos and Castilla in the province of Condesuyos (or Chiefdom of Condes) and its
internal division, remain a subject of debate among special-
__ CUSCO ists (Fig. 22.1). Marti Prssinen has presented a model of
- - - Boundary of Condesuyu
/' \ these boundaries,4 while Catherine Julien offers a different
---- Boundaries of Conde and Collagua,l \
,I \ one that is more detailed in terms of internal divisions. The
/ '
latter is based on different types of colonial documents
/ \, and, particularly, on the limits of the parish and captain-
, \
,/ '
\ cies established by Viceroy Toledo.5 Julien argues that
,/ '\
these boundaries correspond more closely to prehispanic
,I \
,I \ political-territorial divisions than those of administrative
/--- --- '
\ jurisdictions (corregimientos) (Julien 1991: 113).6
;;./ --'- \ What follows is a comparison of this ethnohistorical
/~1 : ............ _ _ \
// ,I CONDE : ----_ \ information with archaeological evidence, especially the
Parinacocha // ,I : '~, presence in particular places of the ushnu-plaza combina-
l ,I I \ "
tion (and kallanka), symbols of imperial power.
\ \
, I
One of the most interesting aspects of past fieldwork
i" " COLLAGUA I I seasons of the Condesuyos project has been the identifica-
, ',I /' /
/ '.... / I I tion of a number of sites with very strong Inca influence
i '........ 'v // I /
'/ in elements such as architecture and urbanism.7 Together
/ """ /1 with other sites that were already mentioned in the related
I literature,8 and that have also been studied by the project,
I .... / '

I ' . ,
'-" ... ' i
-- Arequipa
16 Inca settlements are identified in the area. Most of them
i are located in a relatively restricted area, west and south
i of Nevado Coropuna (Fig. 22.2) and there are another
Pacific Ocean
//-~- three in the eastern and southern slopes of the Solimana
; mountain. If we add to these other similar sites that have
been studied in the context of other research projects
100 km
located in the neighbouring valleys of Cotahuasi, Andaray,
Figure 22.1 Map of Condesuyos (adapted from Julien 1991 and Prssinen Pampacolca and Chuquibamba, there are least 31 sites
1992: 363). with strong Inca influence in this region. A complex of


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Figure 22.2 Map of ushnu sites studied in the Condesuyos project.

a plaza and platform, that can be considered an ushnu, Inca settlements with ushnu structures
can be identified in seven of the sites, while another four
settlements have plazas with ceremonial characteristics. The archaeological evidence that shows Inca presence in
In these cases platforms probably existed, but this cannot the area under study is mainly architectural and urban, and
be established with certainty.9 can be classified into three general groups, or networks,
This high concentration of similar sites clearly shows according to the location and function of the sites. Network
the importance that the region had in the Inca administra- I includes the sites located in high altitude areas known as
tion. As a result of this importance, the function of these puna, or in the higher parts of neighbouring areas known as
sites deserves a detailed study. There has been significant quichwa. This network basically corresponds to the south-
discussion of the symbolism and role of ushnus across the ern and western slopes of Coropuna, and to the eastern
Tahuantinsuyu (see, for example, Zuidema 1989a [1980]; and southern slopes of the Solimana mountain. We assume
Meddens 1997; Staller 2008; Pino Matos 2010; Acuto that some of these settlements had a ceremonial function
2012), so I will not focus on this here. Instead, in the rest related to the worship of those sacred mountains, while
of the chapter I will concentrate on the formal platform- others clearly played an important economic role associ-
plaza aspect, following the definition of ushnu proposed by ated with livestock breeding. Network II includes the sites
Frank Meddens (1997) without getting involved in the role that are located in valleys, below 3700/3800 masl. Among
and symbolism of these platforms across Tahuantinsuyu. them, those of the Cotahuasi, Pampacolca, Chuquibamba
To identify a structure as an ushnu, I do not consider the and Andaray valleys are particularly important.10 A clear dif-
presence of tangible features of a system for ritual libations ference from Network I is Network IIs marked relationship
(stone basin, channels, etc) to be necessary as postulated with terraced agriculture. Finally, the so-called Network
by Tom Zuidema (Zuidema 1989a [1980]; this volume). III basically corresponds to sites located in plateau areas
This is because, as clearly demonstrated by a drawing of (above 4500 masl) north and northeast of Coropuna. This
Guaman Poma de Ayala (Plate 22.1), such offerings could network is related to the Inca road system that connected
be made in portable artefacts (containers). the region with Cusco.11


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Plate 22.1 Guayna Capac, Inca with (Pedro de) Candia, one of the first Spaniards in Peru. The text
states: Cay curitacho micunqui? (Do you eat this gold?)Este oro comemos (We eat this gold)
(Guaman Poma (1936 [15831615]: 369).

As noted earlier, the most striking aspect of the region different hierarchies of their respective sites within the Inca
under study, in terms of Inca presence and administration, is administration of the region. Some of them deserve a more
the remarkable number of sites that present the ushnu-plaza detailed description.
combination. I will now offer a brief review of these sites
starting with those from Network I, which stand out for
their number and size. Acchaymarca12
The archaeological site of Acchaymarca (at 4000 masl)
contains approximately 280 architectural stone structures,
most of which are grouped to the west of the main plaza,
which is irregular in form and measures approximately
Network I sites 94.15 89.90 m, surrounded by a wall made of stones
without mortar (Fig. 22.3). Part of the surrounding wall has
There are at least five (or sevensee Table 22.1) sites with collapsed and, at the southeast end, there are two jambs
ceremonial plazas with ushnus. The sizes of these plat- that served to access another smaller plaza, where there
forms and plazas vary significantly from each other, and are several structures including a kallanka (a rectangular
these differences seem to reflect, among other factors, the structure with several doors).


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Table 22.1 List of archaeological sites in the Seorio de Conde with an ushnu-plaza complex.
Site Ushnu dimensions Ushnu height No. of steps Plaza No. of structures Altitude
(m) (m) (m) on site (masl)
Acchaymarca 8.76 6.98 2.86 2 94.15 89.9 c.280 4000
Ajocancha Rock c. 2.0 Yes, but exact c.10 5000
Huancarcota 5.55 3.30 0.70 2 Yes, but exact 8 (in the Inca 4000
dimensions sector)
Huillcacocha 13.5 3.0 1.2 1 No No structure 4500
closer than 0.5
Itac c.8.0 4.0 Not known 1 118 200 > 50 (no exact 3200
Maucallacta/ 8.50 6.0 1.0 1 138 70 c.250 3700
Maucallacta/ 6.25 3.0 Not known Not known c.0.8 ha c.60 (without 3800
Puica (Jennings 2002) chullpas)
Minticocha Rock c.2.0 N/A 60 25 c.20 4760
Muyu Muyu 13.2 2.4 c.1.0 1? 75 41 > 10 estimated 3260
Siulica 7.0 3.0 0.3 1 27.2 17.4 47 3900
Tompullo 2 3.0 3.0 0.3 1? 47 32 c.70 (without 4000

The ceremonial ushnu platform is located in the centre of well. Secondly, from this ushnu it is possible to observe
of the southeast side of the main plaza (Plate 22.2). The both the Coropuna and Solimana mountains, even though
structure is rectangular and built with fine carved stones in the platform is not oriented towards them. Possible reasons
the style of the imperial Inca masonry. It measures 6.98 m for this are discussed in Zikowski 2008.
long (on the north and south sides) and 8.76 m wide (on the
east and west sides). The platform is located at a distance
of 3.3 m from the squares wall, and it has two levels: the Maucallacta (Pampacolca)13
first 1.75 m high and the second made up of a wall 0.90 m The site of Maucallacta (at 3700 masl) is located on
high, built with cut stone. Together, both levels are 2.86 m a terrace, above the village of San Antonio (district of
high, while the total surface of the structure is 61.32 m2. Pampacolca, province of Castilla, Arequipa region) and
Attached to the central part of the platform is a staircase the surrounding valley. The site covers an area of at least
of five steps that leads to the first level, which is 3.58 m 30 ha14 that contains about 250 stone structures, most with
long and 1.97 m wide (Presbtero Rodrguez 2005: 3378. monumental features (Fig. 22.4). The site is elevated on a
To this brief description provided by the archaeologist terrace that overlooks the surrounding valley.
Gonzalo Presbtero Rodrguez, who has been at the fore- The western end of the site is defined by a monumental
front of work on this platform, some details can be added. platform about 160 m long, 50 m wide and 7 m high.
First, in the plaza there is evidence of a circular structure Next to this platform is a hill with a pyramid built on
encircled by finely worked stones, which looks like a kind top (Presbtero et al. 2001). The construction technique
(of stones without mortar) of the monumental platform,
and other evidence,15 seems to indicate a Pre-Inca origin.
However, parts of the structure, especially the floor of the
platform, have been rebuilt or renovated later by the Incas,
after the incorporation of this territory into Tahuantinsuyu.
The remains of an ushnu have been found at the edge of
the grand platform, about halfway along its length (Plate
22.3). This

is a structure of approximately 8.5 m long, 6 m

wide, and quite low (the preserved height measures
between 60 cm and 1 m). The longest side is oriented
in the direction of the monumental grand platform
(south-east). The highest part is reached by a four-step
staircase built with perpendicular stone blocks. The
Figure 22.3 Plan of Acchaymarca (drawn by Jacek Kociuk based on stones of the ushnus walls are carved with a precision
photographs by Maciej Somczyski). that is unmatched in the whole site, particularly those


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Plate 22.2 Ushnu platform at Acchaymarca (photo Proyecto Condesuyos).

Figure 22.4 Plan of Maucallacta.


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Tompullo 2
The site of Tompullo 2 is located on the northern slope of
a hill that goes by the name of Cora Cora, also known as
Pavellones, at 4000 masl. The site covers an area of around
5 ha and contains 46 rectangular and 25 circular structures,
which can be divided into four sectors according to archi-
tectural criteria: A, B, C and D (Fig. 22.5).
The B sector includes the central part of the site and
contains the two constructions that have led to Tompulo
II being considered as an administrative and ceremonial
centre.The first is a kallanka-type building of 30 m long
with three doors, which is located facing a plaza in the
western sector. The second, some 9 m away from the north
side of the kallanka, was probably a small ushnu or cere-
Plate 22.3 Ushnu platform at Maucallacta (photo Proyecto Condesuyos).
monial platform of which only some traces remain (Plate
22.4). The platform is quadrangular with sides of 3m, and
of the faade, which show a type of imperial Inca its external wall is built with a double row of stones of much
masonry characterised by rectangular, medium-sized better quality than those used inside. Two large stones have
(2030 cm), and well cut stones. These kinds of stones been preserved in the centre of the structure, which could
were probably brought from a puna plateau that is have been part of other elements. Two surveys conducted
10 km southwest of Maucallacta, as they cannot be in the ushnu, one inside and the other outside, resulted in
found around the site. Near the southern corner of the discovery of 18 pieces of pottery of which only one
the ushnu, we found a type of pavement of small has been identified, classified as a local imitation of the
stones covered by clear evidence of ashes and pottery imperial style (local Inca) (Buda 2005: 2534).
shards, which looked like incomplete remains of an
offering (Woloszyn et al. 2010: 201).
The cleaning of the faade of the structure that is located This site is located on a plateau, at around 4000 masl,
just below the ushnu clarified that these remains were ves- east of Quimsa Huanca and near the village of Tualqui,
tiges of burnt offerings. Janusz Woloszyn et al. (2010: 21) in the district of Pampacolca. The site is divided into three
observe that, sectors of which the northern one (sector A) is of par-
ticular importance for this study. The main feature of this
After removing the brushwood and all the materials sector is a large plaza surrounded by a retaining wall,
that were below the ushnu, we discovered what which has a southnorth orientation and is built over an
was expected: a landfill. Indeed, there were two embankment. At the southwest end of the plaza there
huge conical mounds accumulated underneath the are archaeological remains of a quadrangular platform
ushnu with ashes from the offerings that had been of two levels, with a current height of 0.7 m. The lower
performed some seven metres above, probably across level is 5.55 m long (north and south sides) and 3.30 m
the entire place. wide (east and west sides). The position of the platform,

Figure 22.5 Plan of Tompullo 2 (drawn by Jacek Kociuk based on photographs by Maciej Somczyski).


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Plate 22.4 Remains of ceremonial platform at Tompullo 2 (photo Proyecto Condesuyos).

facing the square, and its structure allow us to consider two small terraces with a single row of stones. In front of
it an ushnu. The west side of this ushnu has been much the rock, on a side of the plaza, there is also a landslide of
altered by a recently built irrigation channel; access was rocks that were possibly part of an access ramp (Plate 22.5,
apparently on the east side. A and B). Considering the location of the rock, in front of
Some tens of metres west from the irrigation channel are the square and next to the kallanka, it can be concluded
two structures surrounded by a quadrangular wall. These that it is a type of ushnu or platform for ceremonial uses.
structures are also quadrangular and their stone walls are At a distance of approximately 500 m to the northeast,
made with mortar. Their respective dimensions are 17.20m on the border of a kind of plaza, there is another platform
long and 5.70 m wide, and 12.75 m long and 5.40 m wide. attached to a natural rock, with the height of a single row
The level of destruction of the walls does not allow us to of stones and surrounded by a low wall made up of a
identify the exact location of the doors. It is likely that the single line of stones. Both platforms are inter-visible, but
two structures had a common courtyard between them, the second one shows no clear association to the phase
constituting a kind of kancha. Further south is a kancha of Inca occupation so it has not been included even
with six middle-sized constructions (5.506.30 m long tentativelyin our list of ushnus.
and 3.503.95 m wide), occupying three sides of a slightly To conclude the analysis of Network I, I will briefly
trapezoidal courtyard of approximately 12.80 (12.28) discuss two sites where the presence of an ushnu-plaza
12.60 m, with its northwest side free of constructions. The complex seems quite likely, even though there are still
two remaining sectors that make up this site do not present doubts about the nature of the localised structures in the
evidence of Inca architecture, being separated from the case of Ajocancha, or about their chronology in the case
other sector by wide open spaces without constructions. of Siulica.

Minticocha Ajocancha
This site is located on the southeastern slopes of the Discovered in 1989 by Jos Antonio Chavez and Johan
Solimana volcano, near an eponymous lake, at around Reinhard, this ceremonial site is located in the upper part of
4750 masl. It is notable for the presence of a ceremonial an eponymous ravine, on the western slopes of Coropuna,
plaza of 60 m long (north and east sides) and 25 m wide at 5000 masl. Members of the Condesuyos project visited
(east and west sides), which is surrounded by a wall made the site several times, registering and photographically
up of big stones without mortar. On the west side of the documenting surface materials, but without undertaking
plaza, there are the remains of a rectangular building more extensive work.
26.60m long and 6.25 m wide, which has four doors on The site presents a plaza whose west side rests on a
the wall that faces the square. These features allow us to prominent rock. Attached to this rock is a pile of uncut
classify this building as a kallanka (Fig. 22.6). Almost adja- stones, which may be the remains of some kind of platform
cent to it, on the south side, there is a natural rock that or staircase (Plate 22.6, A and B). The plaza is partially
has been transformed into a kind of platform by building surrounded by a collapsed wall of stones without mortar.


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Figure 22.6 Plan of Minticocha. Note: the circled feature is natural rock,
possibly an ushnu.

Plate 22.6 Possible remains of an ushnu, Ajocancha. A: General view

of the natural rock with the landslide of stones possible remains of an
access ramp or stairway. B: A kind of chair (carved? natural?) on the top
of natural rock (photos Proyecto Condesuyos).

Reinhard and Chavez, in Inca times the site could have

served as a stopping place for ceremonial officials on their
way to the top of the Coropuna mountain (Reinhard 2002b).

The site of Siulica (also known as Pucara Siulica or
Siu Huillca) is located at around 3900 masl, between
the small ravine of Huayllachane and the eastern slopes
of a nearby hill, within the limits of the district of Andaray,
Condesuyos province. The site was found by members
of the Condesuyos project in August 1999, thanks to the
information provided by a resident of the nearby village
of Tompullo. The site includes 47 quadrangular buildings
scattered over an area of approximately 11 ha, as well as
some terraces and walls that are located mainly in its west
Plate 22.5 Possible remains of an ushnu, Minticocha. A: General view
side, on the hillside.
of the natural rock with the landslide of stones possible remains of an
access ramp or stairway. B: Two small terraces built with a simple row of The buildings complex, which is divided into five well-
stones on the top of the natural rock (photos Proyecto Condesuyos). defined sectors, probably had residential and ceremonial
functions.16 The central sector, called C, is a non-uniform
There are also remains of half a dozen rectangular struc- quadrangular area whose main feature is that it is located in
tures around the plaza. Fragments of ceramic appear on the an elevated esplanade, like an islet, that is separated from
surface, particularly around the structures. the other sectors by a stream channel.
Although the level of intervention of Inca officials in the At the perimeter of the site there are the remains of
layout, construction and subsequent functioning of the site a rustic stone wall without mortar, which has totally col-
is not clearly demonstrated, it can be hypothetically postu- lapsed leaving only a line or two of stones with an average
lated that Ajocancha was a settlement dedicated to ritual height of 0.22 m. This wall delimits a plaza with three main
activities that had an ushnu-plaza complex. According to elements (Fig. 22.7) First, on the southeast side, attached


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to the perimeter wall, there is a quadrangular platform of

approximately 7 m long (north and south sides), 3 m wide
(east and west sides), and 30 cm high. The structure is much
deteriorated, but two or three badly defined staircase steps
on the front side facing the plaza are still identifiable. At the
back, the platform protrudes approximately 12 cm above
the perimeter wall. These features allow us to tentatively
identify this structure as a small ushnu.
Secondly, almost exactly at the geometric centre of
the plaza, there is a semi-square structure of 1.50 m long,
1.52m wide and just 0.05 m high, like a pavement or a
very low platform. It seems likely that this platform (or pave-
ment) served as basis for a cylindrical stone (huanca) that
was allegedly moved by members of the nearby community
a few years ago to be placed inside the water reservoir that
was then built on the southeast end of the site.17
Finally, near the northwest wall of the plaza is a building
known as the chapel (capilla). This structure is 10.92 m
long and 6.34 m wide, and its long axis has an eastwest
orientation with a deviation of approximately 10 degrees to
the northwest. In front of the structure, facing the square,
there is a door of 0.90 m wide whose jambs, consisting of
monolithic units, have been preserved on both sides of the
wall. In front of the door, attached to the structures wall,
there is a platform 8.00 m long and 3.03 m wide. In the west
wall of the building, there are also remains of a window. The
walls are preserved to an average height of 1.20 m, with the
east wall being the best preserved, with an average height
of 1.87 m. The survey work carried out inside the building
shows that it was used as a chapel in colonial times. Is it
possible that this construction was built after the Spanish
conquest using traditional Inca techniques but intended to
meet the needs of the new cult? Or is it this a re-adaptation
of an Inca building? In any case, it seems that the perimeter Figure 22.7 Plan of Siulica.
wall of the plaza, the platform on its southeast side, and
constructions in the remaining sectors, are all prehispanic
(for further details see Zilkowski et al. 2005b). about the valley of Chuquibamba, which at that time
was called Itagua after its main settlement (known today
as Itac) (Zilkowski 2005). This valley was also one of
the first areas studied archaeologically in the region
(from the 1930s). However, unfortunately, the evidence
Network II and remains of Inca architecture are relatively limited
in the valley due to significant damage to the sites. The
We found evidence of three sites with the ushnu-plaza researcher Augusto Cardona Rosas was able to visit and
complex in this network, including those of Itac in the study the valley in the early 1990s. His work at this site is,
valley of Chuquibamba, and Maulkallacta of Puica in the to our knowledge, unpublished and little known despite
valley of Cotahuasi. Remains of a third platform that might its importance. Here we present large fragments of the
have been an ushnu were also found in the recently inves- descriptions he made.
tigated site of Muyu Muyu (Chichas district). On the other The site of Itac (Itagua) extends for 1 km from north to
hand the lack of clear evidence of ushnus in the valley of south and 600 m from east to west. It occupies a plateau
Andaray is surprising although their possible existence in area located at the top of Pea Blanca at approximately
Ccopn (Andaray district) cannot be ruled out. This issue 3200 masl. According to Cardona Rosas (1992: 63, 70),
is addressed in the final part of the chapter. it is named after a nearby small spring that maintains the
current limit of agricultural production (around 3,200 masl)
close to the ancient limit (around 3,500 masl).
Itac Cardona Rosas observes that,
As a result of the documents on the allocation of land
grants (encomiendas) made in 1540 by Francisco Pizarro, The settlement has been entirely built using
we have early (although brief) ethnohistorical information volcanic tuff as the main element, as this material is


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Figure 22.8 Plan of Muyu Muyu.

abundant in the area. The construction of the walls Maulkallacta of Puica18

has several variations, although the main technique The site of Maulkallacta is located near the contemporary
is ordinary masonry without mortar, forming town of Puica, in the upper part of the Cotahuasi Valley, at
double lines (the irregular masonry has not been 3800 masl. It occupies an area of some 7.5 ha on a plateau
studied). We also find the characteristic polygonal located above the point where the rivers Huarcaya and
work of Inca almohadillado, noting that it has not Sumana converge. The site was an important administrative
been polished, and that mortar has been used for and ceremonial centre on the Inca road between Cusco and
bonding the elements. Finally, we also find dry the coastal valley of Chala. The settlement is divided into
masonry wallsThe configuration of the site shows three sectors, of which the most relevant for our subject of
evidence of different types of constructions, such as study is the southernmost, sector C, which contains a large
plazas, courtyards, kallankas terraces, chullpas, plaza of approximately 0.8 ha. The east side of the plaza
and domestic units that we have divided between is bordered by a long structure with three doors of some
common and residential. 40 m long which, although badly damaged, is clearly a
kallanka. On the opposite western side of the plaza, there
The main plaza is 200 m long, and 118 m wide, and it are severely deteriorated remains of a rectangular platform,
is located in the eastern part of the site. To the south of with only a line of stones left. In his PhD dissertation Justin
the plaza are large circular administrative buildings, Jennings does not provide the dimensions of this structure,
which are the best preserved. In the centre of these which he rightly identified as an ushnu (Jennings 2002:
buildings there are two known Inca kallankas, with 492, 4956). However, these dimensions can be estimated
remains of a chulpa and an ushnu in front of each as about 6.25 m long and 3 m wide.19
of them. On the west side of the plaza there are
also the remains of a kallanka-type building and the
foundations of another to the west. Muyu Muyu (district of Chichas)
The complex known as Muyu Muyu is located on the
North of the square, there is a platform to which it southern slopes of Solimana, more precisely at the bottom
is possible to ascend through graderos. East of this of an ancient volcanic caldera, at about 3260 masl. The
platform is a residential area with larger and more archaeological site is located above a series of agricultural
ordered domestic spaces, and more elaborate stone terraces, which are erected over a natural embankment that
walls (of polygonal style) (Cardona Rosas 1992: dominates the northern side of the contemporary village
63 ff.). of Yanque.
The main structure of this site after which it is named is
The author does not directly provide the measurements of an oval construction with two overlapping levels (Fig. 22.8).
the ushnu. However, on the basis of his published sche- The lower level, measuring c.76.5 47.5 m, is surrounded
matic plan, we estimate that it was 57 m long and 4 m by a wall that is 4.20 m high in the better preserved parts
wide. of the north side, which overlooks a plaza. The upper level


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is 23.8 22.4 m and 3 m high, with a more quadrangular and 1.20 m high. This platform has a staircase on one of its
shape. The northern side is straight while the rest of the shorter sides and the much deteriorated remains of another
perimeter is oval, even though the collapse of large parts staircase on one of its longer sides These characteristics
of the wall, and the abundant vegetation that covers the suggest that this platform may also have been an ushnu.
entire platforms surface, makes it difficult to see. The Huillcacocha occupied a strategic position in the Inca road
perimeter walls of both levels are built with carved stones, system because it was the point where the road from Cusco
fitted together well with clay mortar. On top of the first and was apparently divided into (at least) three branches.
second levels there are four or five quadrangular structures,
although the dense vegetation prevented us from determin-
ing their exact number. The highest one is about 11.2 9m
wide, and is made of carved stones.
In front of the northern side of the big oval structure is a Discussion
plaza of approximately 75 41 m, which is delimited on
its northern side by the remains of a rectangular platform Having outlined the characteristics of the ushnus of
13.20 m long, 2.40 m wide, and approximately 1 m high Condesuyos in this section, I now seek to develop arguments
in its preserved parts. Although deteriorated, this platform linking to the themes of this volume about the location,
presents evidence of a high quality construction made with function and meanings of ushnu platforms. These structures
finely carved stones. Some of these stones have been put on present enormous variability both in their dimensions and
top of the platform by members of the nearby community construction quality, although there is a constant ushnu-
of Yanque, to build a kind of throne that they call the the plaza association, which in most cases can be extended
Incas chair (la silla del Inca). The quality of these remains to one or more kallankas. Following on from this, ushnus
allows us to advance the hypothesis that this structure can be directly associated with ceremonial and residen-
was an ushnu or altar. Approximately in the centre of the tial settlements. With the exception of the unclear cases of
space that separates the supposed ushnu from the big oval Ajocancha and Huillcacocha analysed above, in this region
structure, it is possible to see the upper part of a pointed we do not find isolated ushnus such as those investigated by
and white stone. the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Ushnus
At the back of the ushnu is a series of terraces. The wall of project in the region of Ayacucho (Meddens et al. 2008,
the lower one is built with carved stones and has a door that 2010; Vivanco Pomacanchari, this volume; Meddens, this
it is now covered by a rustic wall. This door was the original volume; Branch et al., this volume; McEwan, this volume).
access to the top of the hill, where there is a rock that the Another difference between the ushnus from Ayacucho and
locals call Llactayuq Rumi, which was reached through a those from Condesuyos is that the former are built mainly
series of passages. This rock seems partially carved. on hilltops and mountain crests, while the latter tend to be
on hillsides and sloped terrains.
Within the ushnus identified in Condesuyos, there are no
cases such as that of Hunuco Pampa, where the platform
is located in the middle of a large plain, with unobstructed
Network III views in all directions and to the horizon (Pino Matos
2004b). However, there is a relatively high number of the
Finally, we also noticed the possible presence of an ushnu ushnu-plaza complexes in the whole area, although they
platform in Network III, even though this one is not associ- are particularly abundant in high places (above 3700 masl).
ated with a plaza but located next to the main Inca road While we found three cases in valleys, where population
(Capac an), near the aforementioned site of Huillcacocha density is higher today and undoubtedly also in prehispanic
and the eponymous lake. times, we found five and probably seven cases in the puna.

Huillcacocha Inter-visibility analysis

The site was found by members of the Condesuyos project Notwithstanding the absence of isolated ushnus of the
in 2003,20 near the lagoon Huillcacocha, at about 4500 Ayacucho type, we proceeded to analyse the inter-visibility
masl. Unfortunately, the site was partially damaged by a of the ushnus in our area of study as this is such a char-
modest modern settlement established within the ancient acteristic feature in those from Ayacucho. The analysis
architectural complex, which includes at least 50 struc- was conducted by Andrzej Rokoszewski using an ArcGis
tures and a ceremonial square with remains of what could program (Rokoszewski 2012). Due to the availability of
have been a kallanka. At a distance of about 500 m from precise data on location and characteristics, seven of the
the settlement, before reaching the lagoon, there are two eleven sites were included in the analysis: Acchaymarca,
platforms of approximately 6.30 m long, 4 m wide and Huancarcota, Itac, Maucallacta (Pampacolca) Minticocha,
some 1.20 m high, which seem to be located at both sides Muyu Muyu and Tompullo 2 (see Table 22.1). Sites were
of an old road. On the northern bank of the lagoon, where excluded from the analysis for a number of reasons:
there is a plaza-like flat terrain, there are the remains of Huillcacocha is too far away from the others; Siulica is
another rectangular platform, approximately 13.50 3 m located within relatively steep valley slopes, where the


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Figure 22.9 Viewshed analysis.

visual horizon does not exceed the nearest hills; the iden- concentration of these buildings in the area studied by the
tification of Ajocancha as an ushnu is not clear; and there Condesuyos project?
was a lack of accurate GPS location data for Maulkallakta
of Puica.
The results of the analysis are presented in Figure 22.9. The possible administrative function and
It is noted that none of the studied ushnus is visible from hierarchy of the ushnus
another. Those that are closest to being inter-visible are There is no doubt that the presence of an ushnu can be
the ushnus of Maucallacta (Pampacolca) and Huancarcota, considered as a defining feature of the administrative and
although it would be necessary to ascend the hill that is ceremonial function of a given settlement within the impe-
southwest of the former ushnu to see the latter. Nevertheless, rial organisation of the Incas. Comparing the location of
it is of note that these two sites share a wider common sites with ushnus, with the supposed political and territorial
visual perspective than any others. subdivisions (curacazgos) of the Condesuyos territory pro-
Among the other analysed ushnus, the most remote is posed by Julien, we can attribute the role of administrative
that in Itac from which it is not even possible to see the centre or capital (cabecera) to five of these settlements:
Solimana and Coropuna mountains, having a relatively Acchaymarca seems to have been the administrative centre
restricted visibility. As for the remaining four structures, it is of the Yachanquillo/Achamarca territory (Julien 1991:
noteworthy that their locations allow the observation of the 118); Maucallacta of the Pampacolca territory; Itac (Itagua)
Solimana (from Muyu Muyu) or Coropuna (from Tompullo of the Chuquibamba territory; and Maulkallacta of Puica for
2) mountains, or of both mountains (from Acchaymarca the Alca/Cotahuaci/Achambi territory (Julien 1991: 118).
and Minticocha). The Ccopn-La Joya complex probably played a similar
In conclusion, it appears that neither inter-visibility role for the territorial-ethnic entity of the Arones, who
nor the arc of visibility were factors that determined resided in the valleys of Andaray and Yanaquigua and are
or influenced the choice of locations of the ushnus of not included in Juliens proposed subdivisions. It is note-
Condesuyos (Rokoszewski 2012). This means that they worthy that no traits of ushnu have been found in this site.
could not fulfil the same or a similar function to those of Possible reasons for this will be discussed later.
the Ayacucho type (Meddens et al. 2008; Branch et al., this There is a group of four sitesHuancarcota, Tompullo
volume; Vivanco Pomacanchari, this volume). Therefore we 2, Siulica 1 and Minticochathat cannot be linked with
have to address a key question: how can we explain the certainty to any political-territorial entity known to date.


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The case of Minticocha is quite special in this context Coropuna. In the latter, the absence of traces of an ushnu
because, as a result of its location in the upper part of the can be explained by, among other reasons, the deterioration
slopes of the Solimana mountain (at 4760 masl), we can that this architectural complex has suffered in recent years,
safely attribute an eminently ceremonial function to it as a particularly as a result of the establishment of the modern
site that was probably used only at certain times of the year settlement of Pucuncho within its perimeter.
(see Zikowski and Sobczyk 2005a; Zikowski 2008). However, the lack of ushnu traces in Ccopn is some-
In the cases of the remaining three ushnusHuancarcota, what surprisingthis site is relatively well preserved and
Siulica and Tompullo 2it is remarkable that they are all exhibits the highest degree of intervention by Inca builders
very small, even tiny in the case of Tompullo 2 (3 m long of all the sites investigated by the Condesuyos project. As an
and wide, and 30 cm high). It is difficult to believe that such example of this intervention, the site includes a monumen-
modest structures, both in terms of quality and size, could tal tomb with finely carved stone walls in the Cusco style,
have been built under the supervision and by direct order and a 51m long kallanka also made with carved stones,
of imperial officials. As a result, we are inclined to consider which is located on one side of a large plaza.21
that these buildings could have been built by local peoples A possible explanation for this absence could be
on their own initiative, as an expression of their political that some of the sites buildings were being built at the
ambitions. In this regard, it is significant that the three sites time of Spanish conquest, which would have halted the
under consideration have a marked residential character, construction of these symbols of imperial power. This phen-
besides being located relatively close to larger and more omenon has been evidenced in sites such as Maucallacta
important centres that have ushnu-plaza complexes. of Pampacolca, where a survey carried out inside the
Siulica 1 and Tompullo 2 are just an hours walk from ushnu showed that, judging by the layout of the found-
each other, and both are also just a few hours away from ations and other features, the structure was in the process
the site of Itac, in the valley of Chuquibamba. Huancarcota of construction or remodelling that was never finished. In
is a few hours walk from Maucallacta (of Pampacolca). Ccopn, a similar situation seems to have occurred with the
Therefore, how can we interpret the presence of a mini- monumental kallanka and, according to Cardona Rosass
ushnu so close to a ceremonial and administrative centre descriptions, it appears obvious that this was also the case
that has a similar, but much more impressive, construction, with one of the kallankas in Itac (Cardona Rosas 1992).
and a much higher rank within Inca administration? As Therefore, it is possible that the Spanish invasion was the
a hypothetical explanation, we suggest that these three direct cause of the abandonment of several ambitious urban
sites could have been mitimaes settlements. The presence projects in the area, including the construction of an ushnu
of these settlers (mitimaes or mitmaqkuna) in the area, in Ccopns main plaza. Some worn stone elements that
relocated from other parts of the empire for different were found in the centre of the plaza could be the last
purposes, is reported by Guillermo Galdos (1993: 223). traces of such a project.
Their presence probably contributed to the complex- Nevertheless, there is also another possible explana-
ity of the socio-political organisation of the Condesuyos tion that is complementary, rather than alternative, to that
region. The presence of ushnus in settlements occupied offered above: the platform-like monumental tomb found
by different ethnic groups could reflect the hierarchy to in Ccopn could also have been used as a kind of ushnu.
which each group aspired, and emphasise its independence This possibility deserves more detailed attention.
from neighbouring groups, without having many practical
consequences for the Inca administration.
The larger sites, located between the lower valleys and The tomb-platforms
the high puna, were undoubtedly much more important Three structures have been found in the region under
for the Incas, for example, Maucallacta in the upper part study that, as a peculiar feature, seem to have fulfilled
of the Pampacolca valley and Acchaymarca on the edge the combined functions of tomb (or mausoleum) and cere-
of the river Arma canyon, just above an important set of monial platform. This dual function is particularly clear
agricultural terraces. Even Itac, although it is at a lower in the case of the Huaycha site, where there are remains
altitude (only 3200 masl) presents similar characteristics to of a quadrangular platform in a large square surrounded
the previous sites, being located above a set of agricultural by a wall, which is located on the flattened top of the
terraces and having direct access to the puna. Muyu Muyu mountain that names the site (between 3824 and approxi-
also presents some similarities as it is located at 3260 masl mately 3600 masl). The platform is 12 m long, 8 m wide
and in direct relation to a main road towards the puna. and almost 2 m high in the preserved parts. Although
This suggests that such sites served to control extensive ter- the structure is deteriorated, it is possible to distinguish
ritories that included both the puna and temperate valleys two levels and an access staircase on the short west side
(quichwa), and their different ecosystems. (Figure 22.10). The upper level is surrounded by a wall
Finally, I wish to address the issue of the apparent made with two stone lines and underneath the surface is
absence of ushnu characteristics in sites with undoubted a chamber of some 7 m long, 1 m wide and 1.3 m high
and very obvious construction activity during the Inca in which there is evidence of human bone residues. The
Empire, particularly in the complexes of CcopnLa Joya ceramic materials collected in the platforms and around
in the valley of Andaray and Pucuncho, and Maucallacta, the square allow us to date the site to the transitional
in a puna area located at the foot of the northern slopes of period between the Late Intermediate Period and Late


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In summary, there are three funerary stone structures

that have flat roofs surrounded by walls, presenting the
characteristics of a ceremonial platform. In one of them
(Huaycha), this platform function is directly confirmed by
the presence of a staircase to access the upper part. All
three are located next to plazas: in the case of Huaycha, in
the main plaza of the site; in the other two cases, in small
plazas to the rear of the tombs (on the opposite side to the
entrance). In the last two cases (Ccopn and Maucallacta),
the Inca affiliation is evident, while in the case of Huaycha
it is more problematic as it could be a construction from the
Final Late Intermediate Period that was reused in Inca times.
The ceremonial character of these tombs seems quite
evident, and their formal resemblance to typical ushnus
is noticeable. However, there are also clear differences
between these tombs and ushnus, particularly in the cases
of Maucallacata and Ccopn where the tombs are not asso-
ciated with main plazas, but with smaller ones. This could
be a result of these tomb-platforms being used in ceremo-
nies that were intended for limited and select participants.

Figure 22.10 A: Plan of Huaycha. B: Chullpa at Huaycha ( Proyecto


Horizons (Zikowski and Sobczyk 2005b: 2356). It is Accepting that the presence of an ushnu-plaza complex
noteworthy that the platform has excellent vistas in all is characteristic of administrative and ceremonial Inca
directions (except south), allowing views of the Solimana, centres, and that the dimensions and quality of these struc-
Coropuna and the distant Sara Sara mountains. tures reflected the hierarchical position of these centres
Another structure that is somewhat similar in form, as within the empire, it is clear that Maucallacta (Pampacolca
well as in location, is the monumental tomb with imperial district, province of Castilla), Achaymarca (Salamanca dis-
Inca style found in the site of Ccopn. This is a rectangular trict, province of Condesuyos), and Itac (Chuquibamba
structure of 6.40 m long, 3.75 m wide and 3.75 m high, Valley) were the most important administrative and cere-
with a flat roof that, apparently, could have been used as monial centres that the Inca established in the Chiefdom
a ceremonial platform. Significantly, there is a relatively of Condes. Presumably, the site of Ccopn (in the valley
large plaza at the back of the tomb. A detailed description of Andaray) was intended to serve a similar function, even
of this structure can be found in Zikowski et al. 2005c. though it does not present any ushnu, a subject that has
Finally, the third structure of this type is the mausoleum been addressed above.
itself of site Maucallacta (Pampacolca). Woloszyn et al. If we accept that the valley of Cotahuasi was part
(2010: 1718) describe this as follows: of the supposed Chiefdom of Condes, then the site of
Maulkallacta Puica would undoubtedly be the fifth admin-
This is one of the most mysterious structures in the istrative and ceremonial centre of this chiefdom; while, in
siteThe building consists of two twin antechamber- the district of Chichas, the site of Muyu Muyu, where more
hallways and two chambers (one roofed with large extensive studies are necessary, could be the sixth.
megalithic slabs of semi-carved stone that form a kind As demonstrated, all these sites share common features,
of vault; the other covered by soil, although it could the most significant being their location and the pres-
originally have had a roof of wood and straw). ence of particular structures that are unequivocally Inca,
particularly kallankas. They are located in places above
The mausoleum is a structure of 8 m long, 6 m wide and a important complexes of agricultural terraces and that, at
maximum of 2.40 m high. It is covered with stone slabs that the same time, have relatively fast and direct access to
create a flat roof, which is surrounded by a wall; there is no high puna areas.
evidence of any other type of cover. Underneath this roof In my interpretation, these common elements do not
is a chamber that was looted in colonial times and still has mean that all these sites had the same hierarchy, as this
traces of human bones and imperial-style Inca ceramics. would certainly depend on several factors such as the
Stone benches and various pieces of twin pottery vessels religious and oracular functions that are mentioned in his-
were found in the antechamber of this building. The latter torical sources. Considering these functions, it seems that
could have been part of offerings made in the building, after the most important sites in the area during Inca times (and
or before the burial of an important person. possibly well before) were Maucallacta of Pampacolca,


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Rodriguez. For further information see Zikowski et al.

which probably was considered the oracle of Coropuna, 2005a. This paper was translated from Spanish by Francisco
Muyu Muyu, which possibly had a similar function in Ferreira.
regard to Solimana, and finally Ccopn. As demonstrated 2. There is some terminological confusion in the ethnohistorical
above, this last site presents the most intense degree of sources in the naming of Condesuyos, Condesuyo or
intervention by Inca architects and planners in the whole Kuntisuyu: Condesuyo (or Kuntisuyu) is the name of the part
area under study, as well as a unique monument at the of Tawantinsuyu, south and southwest of Cusco. Condesuyos
is the name of a province within the Condesuyo (Kuntisuyu)
centre of the sitean elite tomb erected in pure Cusqueo
that bordered Collaguas in the east, Chumbivilcas in the
style, with carved and polished stones of the highest quality. north and Parinacochas in the northwest. In colonial times
There are also other sites that present smaller ushnu- there was an administrative division between Condesuyos
plaza complexes and that are located in the high puna. of Cusco and Condesuyos of Arequipa that only partially
However, except for an unclear case (Ajocancha), all of followed prehispanic boundaries. Some texts refer to the area
them are found within residential settings. As a working of Arequipa (por la parte de Arequipa) not only to define the
hypothesis, we have suggested that these ushnus could have surroundings of the regions capital, but also a wider part of
the Condesuyo (Kuntisuyu). According to Garcilaso de la Vega,
been erected on the initiative of different ethnic groups,
the quarter of the Inca Empire called Condesuyo (Kuntisuyu)
possibly mitimaes, as a means of expressing their independ- was named after a particular ethnic group and territory, in the
ence and position in respect of neighbours. same way that the Chinchaysuyu quarter was named after the
On the other hand, there is a complete lack of iso- Chincha (Garcilaso de la Vega 1963 [1609]: 58).
lated ushnus, such as those that are commonly found in 3. The authors from Arequipa used to establish a clear division
the region of Ayacucho. Moreover, analysis of the inter- between the Condes (Kuntis) and other nations of the region.
visibility between the platforms, another important feature For example, when highlighting the importance of the Arones
(Arunis) ethnic group, whose presence to the southwest of
of Ayacuchos ushnus, has shown that none of the seven
Coropuna is well documented in colonial documents,
studied ushnus is visible from one another, and none share Galdos (1993: 223) states: This ethnic group achieved
similar views of the horizon and the surrounding landscape, a high level of technological development long before
as occurs in Ayacucho. However, in all the cases where this Manco Capac appeared, having their core territory in the
analysis was possible, it seems that the views and visibility jurisdictions of Yanaquigua, Andaray, Yspacas and Alpacay,
of the western peak of Coropuna, traditionally known in the the Kuntisuyu (in a territory that currently corresponds
as La Nia, were important. Nevertheless, as it has been to the province of Condesuyos). However, as all the other
Andean ethnic groups, the Arones did not remain within a
postulated in the case of Ayacucho, most ushnus in the area
limited territory. In the logical pursuit of other ecological
are located at high altitude (above 3700 masl). Finally, there environments and food varieties, they expanded towards
is also the quite specific case of the tomb-platforms. Can Nasca in the north, reaching Saramanca (or Salamanca in
they be considered a variety of ushnu? Spanish); towards Chuquibamba in the east; and towards
All these similarities and differences, observed at Ocoa, Pescadores, and the coast in the west; passing
regional (within the Condesuyos) and interregional (com- through the valleys of Pioc and Churunga, among others,
paring Condesuyos with other regions such as Ayacucho) in the basin of River Ocoa. For this reason it is not strange
that when Pizarro granted the encomienda of Chuquibamba
scale, force us to reconsider the role of ushnu platforms as
to Juan Crespo (on 22 January 1540), he excluded three
expressions of imperial power, and to look more closely different ethnic groups other than the Kuntis: the Chilpacas,
at other factors that could have determined the location Achamarcas (of Saramarca), and Arunis. Thus: Those Indians
and symbolic function of each of these platforms, and the do not include the elderly, and even less the mitimates from
political and religious role attributed to them. Chilpaca and Achaymarca, and the Arones that are in that
valley (of Chuquibamba), just the others who are for service.
4. The hypothetical reconstruction of the Chiefdom of Condes
boundaries by Marti Prssinen (1992: 363, map 26) is
independent of the discussion on the organisation and socio-
spatial division of the neighbouring Chiefdom of Collaguas.
Notes On the latter, the ethnohistorical documentation is much
more abundant and complete (Prssinen 1992: 3626,
1. The project is based on a technical and scientific cooperation 399403).
agreement between the Catholic University of Santa Maria de 5. The captaincies served to recruit the workforce for the mine
Arequipa (Peru) and the University of Warsaw (Poland). The at Potos.
project directors are Mariusz Zikowski and Luis Augusto 6. The main difference between the reconstructions that are
Franco Belan. Maximo Neira Avendao (19312009) was based respectively on the captaincies and the corregimientos
scientific advisor until July 2009. This Peruvian-Polish project is the administrative location of the Cotahuasi Valley.
is funded by the aforementioned universities and by the According to both reconstructions, this valley would be
ministries of Science and Higher Education and of Foreign within the Chiefdom of Condes. However, according to the
Affairs, Poland. It also includes the participation of institutions boundary demarcation of the corregimientos, Cotahuasi
and scientists from other countries such as France, Spain would be between the corregimientos of Condesuyus and
and Germany. Since 2006, there has been an autonomous Chumbivilcas.
subproject Maucallacta within the wider project, which has 7. The presence of Inca ceramic is fairly common in almost all
focused on the study of the main shrine of Nevado Coropuna sites occupied during the Late Horizon Period, although their
(Pampacolca district, Castile province). This subproject is proportion differs. In this area, the study of the distribution
called Maucallacta after the site where the shrine is located, of Inca pottery and its relevance in relation to imperial
and is directed by Maciej Sobczyk and Gonzalo Presbtero


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administration starts with the work of Jakub Rosiski (2005) large cemeteries located south, east and west of Maucallacta,
(there are other works in progress on the topic). In this as well as an important Pre-Inca site, Maucallacta 2, 1 km
text, the presence of Inca ceramic is only addressed in the east of the Inca settlement. Together the Inca settlement and
context of sites with imperial influences in their urban and surrounding cemeteries occupy some 70 ha.
architectural patterns. 15. Vincent Jomelli, a collaborator of the project from the
8. The evolution of archaeological research in the area has been Institut de Recherche pour le Dveloppement (IRD), France,
studied in other publications (Zilkowski and Belan Franco conducted a study on the growth rate of lichens in the walls
20002001). of prehispanic buildings in the area. On the basis of his
9. Moreover, adjacent to our area of study, in the province of preliminary findings, he argues that the walls of the grand
Collaguas, there are two sites that show evidence of these platform are some centuries older than the walls of the Inca
same features (Wernke 2003: 217; Doutriaux 2004). buildings that are found on the same site. However, it is not
10. Except for the site of Huasicac, in the district of Machahuay, yet possible to determine precisely the time distance between
no significant Inca settlements have been found so far in the them (Vincent Jomelli, pers. comm., July 2005).
lower parts of the valleys Pampacolca, Orcopampa, Andagua 16. For a description of the Siulica 1 and 2 sites see Zilkowski
and Rio Arma, or in the regions of Viraco and Machahuay. 2005.
This could be the result of a lack of complete archaeological 17. The stone (or huanca) is some 1.40 m long, 0.70 m wide
surveys, or a reflection of different and more indirect forms and 0.42 m high; it has no carving on the surface. A local
of Inca control over these territories. informant made explicit reference to its phallic shape. Perhaps
11. Obviously the proposed division is not exclusive. For this symbolic aspect motivated the villagers to move the stone
example, a particular site may have had several functions and place it in the pond.
such as religious, political and economic, so it could be 18. This site has been studied in the context of the Archaeological
included in several networks. Project Cotahuasi, directed by Justin Jennings and Willy
12. The name of this site can be also spelled as Acchaymarca or Yepez. The following description is based on the PhD thesis
Achamarca. of the former (Jennings 2002).
13. Maucallacta (old village) is a fairly common place name in 19. Justin Jennings, pers. comm., December 2013.
this and other Andean regions. In the geographical area of the 20. We owe this finding to D. Gary Pascualli from Pampacolca,
Condesuyos project, this name was associated until recently who told us about an important site on the route he used
with a site that we call Pucuncho-Maucallacta, which is to walk to go to Cusco. The settlement is located near the
located on the northern slopes of the Coropuna mountain. Huillcacocha lagoon, in the district of Cayarani, Condesuyos
This site was found in 1986 by Federico Kauffman Doig, who province.
mentioned it very briefly in one of his works (Kauffmann Doig 21. This site is described in more detail in Zikowski et al. 2005c:
1987: 34). 11421.
14. This is the approximate area where the ceremonial and
residential buildings are located. Moreover, there are also three


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