Atacamas . Researchers believe that the Atacameño people were directly influenced by the Inca empire, starting in 1450 , and through fluid contacts with the inhabitants of Tihuanaco , in the Bolivian highland region . From the Incas they imported the use of adobe and gabled roofs in constructions, among other customs.



1 Features

2 Customs

3 Culture

4 Agriculture

5 Relationships within the community

6 Relations with the supernatural

7 Relations with other communities

8 Religion

9 Currently

10 Sources




The development of the Atacameño culture lasted for several years, in the area of ​​the basin of the Loa river , where the town of San Pedro de Atacama is currently located . The occupation of the Incas and the fact that the area was crossed by those who were heading north-south, allowed the Atacameños to incorporate elements and customs of other nearby cultures.



Fundamentally focused on agriculture, the Atacameños watered their crops through a system of terraces and favored their crops with artificial irrigation and the use of sodium saltpeter as fertilizer. Trade turned out to be, at the same time, another alternative to improve their economic situation: alpaca wool , corn , beans were exchanged on the Pacific coast for mollusks and fish , and in present-day Bolivia , for coca leaves. . It is believed that the Atacameños consolidated as a people around 500 years before Christ. Remains of ceramics and vases, jugs and urns, and other metallurgical pieces found in the region give an account of its progress.


Throughout the 1500 years following the beginning of the Christian era, the Atacameños left samples of their work in metal , wood , stone , wool and basketwork . Imposing, the pukaras – stone fortresses built between 900 and the arrival of the European – still survive, like that of Tilcara , a faithful reflection of the splendor of this civilization.




Atacama culture.

The Atacama culture was made up of a set of communities settled in the extreme northwest of Argentina and extending to the Chilean region of the same name: the Puna , which occupied the west of Jujuy , Salta and the northwest of Catamarca . The cultural complex of the Puna, specified as a true unit, was what Bennetdefined as Puna complex, with interesting adaptive characteristics in a decidedly hostile environment. The Cunza or Atacameña language is different from Quechua and Aymara, although it has received loans from both and also from Araucanian and even Spanish. Presumably, there is still talk at some point in our territory. The Atacamas were corn, potato and bean growers; they built large platforms and it is unlikely that they had irrigation canals. They conserved their food in large quantities and, as a reflection of a very elaborate adaptive system, traces remain in the varied instruments: axes (for the extraction of salt), digging sticks, spoons, pots, hoes, and so on. Like their brothers in the region, they were also shepherds and to a lesser extent hunters. The settlement pattern repeats the pattern ofdiaguitas and omaguacas : on the one hand the town (although in this case with few houses) and on the other, the defensive site.


Characteristic of the Atacama culture was cranial deformation for apparently aesthetic purposes and even dental deformations. ( Boman attests in a seven-year-old boy two incisors filed in life.) Notable industries are pottery (very rough), metallurgy (rare), stone (widely used), wood, and bone.



The Atacamas were corn, potato and bean growers ; They built large platforms and it is unlikely that they had irrigation canals. They conserved their food in large quantities and as a reflection of a very elaborate adaptive system, there are traces in the varied instruments: axes (for the extraction of salt), digging sticks , spoons , pots , hoes , etc. Like their brothers in the region, they were also shepherds and to a lesser extent hunters.


Relations within the community

We know practically nothing about the internal organization of the community . Only it is very probable that the family has constituted the basic nucleus on which the partiality was, which in turn was in charge of a cacique, in an organizational scheme similar to that of the rest of the cultures of the Northwest.


Relations with the supernatural

In some villages, constructions of much larger dimensions than rooms have been found, probably temples. The findings at Pucará de Rinconada are interesting , where menhirs up to two meters high were found, and small anthropomorphic stone idols (amulets?). It is also important to note the discovery of tablets for the absorption of allusinogens , decorated with anthropomorphic figures . In addition to having been used as an aid in the adaptation of man to that inhospitable territory, it is almost certain that the practice of absorbing allusinogens was linked to rituals of religious origin. The drugused, the cebil or piptadenia, is widely used in our continent, from the Caribbean to the northwest, where, in addition to the atacamas, the comechingones and lules had it incorporated. The uses that were given to this drug were multiple, but always framed within the sacred: trances, shamanic cures, the collective ceremonies. At other times and depending on the cultures, it was used before wars to increase fighting capacity. Varieties of this drug are also known among the Guarani and Matacos. As always, the funeral home provides elements for a more complete understanding of culture. The Atacamas buried their dead in natural caves that were completed with “pircado”. The deceased was deposited with all his belongings (including cebil tablets). Human sacrifices were surely practiced. The clearest example of this is the discovery in Salinas Grandes in 1903 . It is about a boy of around 7 years old, luxuriously dressed in gold and bronze ornaments. Death occurred by strangulation and the rope was found wrapped around the neck.


Relations with other communities

The Puna, like the Humahuaca ravine, was an area of ​​intense traffic as a result of trade, but as in the two cultures seen above, the war was the link of contact with other peoples, although it did not reach the development observed between diaguitas and omaguacas. The Atacamas, possessors of numerous herds of llamas, transported salt for exchange purposes in the surrounding regions. Reciprocally, this product was exchanged for ceramics from the Diaguita and Peruvian area as well as for our well-known mollusk shells from the Pacific through the Chilean Puna.. They undoubtedly maintained the closest contact with the omaguacas. They also supported the Inca penetration and in their territory “chichas” partialities of the Bolivian area were crazy .



The Atacameños believed in various gods , according to their beliefs, these gods lived at the top of the Lincacabur volcano . Also in a life after death, for this reason they buried their dead with everything they needed for the long journey that awaited them.


The deceased were buried with their belongings in natural caves that were completed with “pircado”. (pile stones like a small mound). In the source there is a longer explanation. Greetings



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