Although part of the local population was used as labor, in general the dominated towns preserved their cultural autonomy, and there are few cases in which there are mixtures or influences detectable by archeology on the side that is today Argentine. Here the Inca only occurs along the roads and associated sites, and also in some fortified places (pucara) that only occur further north in the Cuyo area. In contrast, on the Chilean side the Inca presence is stronger, with permanent settlements such as Copiapó, Ovalle, Quillota and Santiago, as well as known fortifications at Cerro Mercachas (opposite the entrance to the road to Mendoza), at Cerro Chena to the south of the city of Santiago (which guarded the Maipo river valley), and in the “Cerro de la Compañía” in the Cachapoal river basin, recently discovered and studied. We have already said that this was the last effectively dominated area, after which the Mapuche or Araucanian sphere began. Observing a map, it is clear that ceremonial sites in general and high-altitude burial sites in particular, are Cerro Aconcagua associated with high sections of the Inca road network. Said in functional terms: where a transverse path connected both slopes of the Andes or other mountain ranges such as those mentioned above, a high and prominent hill was sought and chosen for ritual ascents that left as a vestige what we call sanctuaries of height. Clear examples are, among others, the PichuPichu hills (southern Peru), Licancabur (east of San Pedro de Atacama in northern Chile), Azufre or Copiapo, Incahuasi (in the last two beautiful statuettes were recently excavated and found), El Toro (at whose foot there is a path that crosses the Valeriano pass in the direction of the Huasco river valley), Las Tortolas, Mercedario, and Aconcagua, related to the southernmost section of the Inca “royal road” that – like the current international route – connected the Uspallata valley with the basins of the Aconcagua, Mapocho and Maipo rivers in central Chile.
The network of high altitude sanctuaries that extends for about 2,000 km. from the south of Peru to the center of Chile and the west of Argentina, constitutes an important proof of the Inca Aconcagua Ascents
domain over these regions, as is also the organized network of roads and dairy farms. It was at the service, above all, of trade, mineral transport, troop movements and chasquis or messengers. Also, on certain occasions, they were traveled by ceremonial retinues. Through their relationship with high-altitude sanctuaries, they reflect the importance of the religious factor in the expansion and in the life of this last great Andean empire. High mountain archeology was practically inaugurated with the mummy of El Plomo hill, excavated by treasure hunters in 195 I and whose research was directed by Dr. Crete Mostny (at that time archaeologist – head of the National Museum of Natural History of Santiago de Chile ), served as a basic model for further findings. Its interpretation as a product of a human sacrifice from the Inca era remains in force. (The calculated age for this toddler was 8 years). Significant parallels are observed with our Aconcagua burial: in addition to the geographical proximity to the southern border of the Empire and a similar height above sea level. the analogies are found in the ages of the sacrificed children and in their sex (male in both), in the richness of the textile garments, and above all in the statuettes: the golden flame and the two with Spondylus shells are practically identical to those Aconcagua Argentina
recovered on the summit of Cerro El Plomo. (This suggests the possibility that both ceremonies were held simultaneously). Between 1956 and 1968 Chilean climbers explored an artificially filled platform located on the very summit of Cerro Las Tortolas (6,300 meters), which provided a series of elements, even statuettes. In 1956 the Austrian Mathias Rebitseh extracted silver human statuettes from structures on the summit of Cerro Galan (Puna de Catamarca), carrying out three other expeditions to the area between 1958 and 1965, accompanied by Argentine climbers. For our part, together with collaborators from the Institute of Archeology and Ethnology of the U.N. Cuyo, we began in 1963 a series of explorations in the highlands of San Juan and western La Rioja. whose most spectacular result was the discovery of the mummy of El Toro hill (approximately 6,200 meters) by the climber Erico Groch accompanied by Antonio Beorchia. In the same year of, 1964, Peruvian climbers excavated a rich Inca tomb near the summit of the extinct volcano Pichu-Pichu in Arequipa (at 5,600 meters). But in this case, the body of a woman of about 15 was very poorly preserved. Other finds of high-altitude mummies in southern Peru are ancient, and the material has been lost (the case of Chachani hill), or they badly have dementia Aconcagua
(Coropuna). The latter also happens with a child of about six years of age. Found in 1905, with a simple trousseau, on the Charli hill (about 6,000 meters), on the eastern edge of the Puna de Jujuy, donated to the Ethnographic Museum of Buenos Aires.