Researcher say the find, located at 4,800 meters above sea level, is the largest of its kind.
“The sacred Coropuna Mountain is unique. So far, we know of five such sites located on its slopes. However, never before have we found such a wide complex, consisting of 5 ceremonial squares and 20 buildings, so high up,” said Dr Maciej Sobczyk from the University of Warsaw.
The housing complex consisted of some 20 buildings and 5 squares. As it was located on the slopes of the Coropuna volcano, which was sacred to the Incas, archaeologists suspected it was used in connection with offering ceremonies. The uncovered stone building contained small rooms, measuring some 5 to 15 square meters.
“No one lives permanently at such altitudes. We found no remains of any sort of crafting activity. The complex was probably used by the Incas for short periods of time, while they were conducting pilgrimages to the summit of the volcano. There, they offered sacrifices, including child sacrifice,” said Dr Sobczyk.
The doctor explained that the pilgrims came to the site from another, even bigger complex, located lower on the slope. It was one of the last stops for the pilgrims, before they went on, accompanied by a group of high priests, to the summit of the volcano, where they gave offerings on specially prepared platforms.
The dormant Coropuna volcano, located in Peru, is some 6,425 meters high. It was one of the five most sacred mountains to the Inca people of the Inca Empire. Researchers from the Institute for Pre-Columbian Studies at the University of Warsaw have been searching for and excavating sites around it for many years. The project is jointly conducted with the Museum of the Andean Sanctuaries of the Catholic University of Santa Maria in Arequipa.