Like a palimpsest, the mudbrick walls of Cancho Roano’s latest sanctuary, Sanctuary A (shown in the plan and aerial photo above), enclose the traces of three older sanctuaries built on the same spot. Near the northwest corner of Sanctuary A, archaeologists have uncovered the scant remains of a small round structure, dating to the end of the seventh-century B.C. Known as Sanctuary D, the oldest of the Cancho Roano sanctuaries, this round structure may have been the tomb of a venerated ancestor.

The remnants of Sanctuary C, constructed at the beginning of the sixth century B.C., include an altar shaped like a circle resting on a triangle (see photo of Sanctuary C in this article) , found just to the south of Sanctuary D.

When Sanctuary B was built at the end of the sixth century B.C., the ancient architects chose to place their altar, which was shaped like a stretched-out oxhide, directly over the circle-and-triangle altar of Sanctuary C. The builders of Sanctuary B also erected two large partially circular towers at the complex’s entranceway, on the same spot where the builders of Sanctuary A placed trapezoidal towers.

The impressive Sanctuary A complex added perimeter rooms, a defensive moat (where 30 skeletons of equids have been found) and a second floor (where the sanctuary’s main cultic rooms were probably located). On the spot where the builders of Sanctuary B and Sanctuary C placed altars, the builders of Sanctuary A placed an 8-foot-tall masonry pillar, marking the sacredness of the site. The builders of Sanctuary A also reused a stone stela (showing a warrior and his armor) from Sanctuary D as a step in the monumental entranceway.