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)