In 1999 Centro Mallqui carried out excavations at the small settlement
on the north side of the lake. Known today as Llaqtacocha, or town-on-the-lake,
the site covers about 33 hectares and includes the remains of some
130, mostly circular structures, probably home to the people interred
in the chullpas across the lake. Excavations at Llaqtacocha unearthed
Chachapoya and provincial Inca ceramics, indicating that the settlement
and the chullpa site across the lake are contemporary. The site
may have been founded as early as AD 1200, and it includes rectangular
structures that point to the Inca occupation as well as buildings
that may have been built in early Spanish Colonial times.
Llaqtacocha has been severely damaged by forest clearing to open
pastures for cattle. The trees toppled the site’s walls and
subsequent burning shattered limestone building blocks. Cattle range
freely, tumbling the few remaining walls and trampling the site’s
ancient drainage system. As a result, few of Llaqtacocha’s
walls stand higher than 1 meter.
Llaqtacocha boasts an especially elaborate drainage network. Stone
faced canals wind their way through the settlement and small, stone
slab bridges provided access to the half-moon cornices surrounding
the house foundation platforms. Some cornices, curiously, were built
on supporting walls and are not freestanding, serving as ramps leading
to the doors of the houses.
Excavation of a stone-paved patio at
Llaqtacocha (Adriana von Hagen)