Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino

Art > Rock Art

The pictographs of Confluencia

Typical of the Confluencia style are scenes that combine human and animal figures, usually camelids, in a single composition. These were painted in red and reddish-yellow, usually inside seasonal rock sheltersand occasionally outside, immediately beside these restingplaces. The main features of the Confluencia style include small-sized figures, movement, and the accentuation of anatomical features expressed as elongated torsos, wide hips, narrow waists and outlined extremities. Animal and humans are always represented in profile and the former are twice as numerous as the latter. Humans are depicted unclothed or dressed in plant fiber skirts; some are wearing feather headdresses anda few are shown dancing. Many of these figures are holding long artifacts that are presumably spearthrowers or short spears. Some of the camelid figures are standing on their hind legs, fighting like males in heat, but they also have the appearance of animalized humans, perhaps alluding to ceremonies in which the boundaries between the animal and human became blurred.

Given that both hunting and herding were practiced in the region during the period in which the pictographs were made, it is interesting that the Confluencia camelid figures have been interpreted as wild animals. This conclusion is supported by the discovery of hunting instruments and evidence of flintknapping inside the rock shelters, and is coherent with the location—a habitat with abundant wild camelids. Some of the panels have been interpreted as hunting scenes showing humans surrounding wild camelids.

Location: Upper Salado River Basin, Region II of Antofagasta

Timeline: Approximately 1000–500 B.C.

Style: Confluencia

Source:  F. Gallardo, C. Sinclaire and C. Silva, 1999, “Arte rupestre, emplazamiento y paisaje en la cordillera del desierto de Atacama,” in Arte rupestre en los Andes de Capricornio, J. Berenguer and F. Gallardo, eds., pp. 67, Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino, Santiago.