Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino

Art > Rock Art

The petroglyphs of Tamentica

The site of Tamentica is located in a deep, narrow section of the middle Guatacondo Ravine and consists of around fifty stone blocks concentrated in an area of approximately 200 m2. The petroglyphs cover virtually the entire surface of the blocks and were engraved in relief using a combination of area- and line-percussion techniques. Figures of condors with wings outstretched and four-legged camelids stylized to different degrees predominate, but the site also contains representations of unidentified quadrupeds, felines, lizards, frogs, snakes, fish and spiders, as well as a range of geometric figures including borders, crosses, spirals, circles, wavy and zigzag parallel lines, and other shapes.

Notable among the petroglyphs are human figures with appendagesprotruding from their disproportionately large heads, as well as smaller humans, also with protruding appendages, with arms up and crossed, and dressed in loincloths; yet others depict individuals carrying loadson their backs, caravan drivers and figures aboard sea lion skin raftsharpooning fish or capturing them with lines. Judging by the variety of themes present on the blocks, rock art seems to have been practicedin this oasis throughout the 1500 years of the pre-Hispanic cultural sequence.

Located in the arid Tamarugal Pampa, Tamentica was a popular stopping place for peopletraveling the route between the coast and the highlands. Petroglyph making seems to have been a ritual activity performed by caravan drivers who stopped here to find water, plants and shelter before continuing on their journey.

Location: Middle Guatacondo Ravine, Region Iof Tarapacá.

Timeframe: Approximately 100–1500 A.D.

Site: Tamentica

Source:  A. M. Llamazares, 1993, “Arte rupestre de las quebradas de Guatacondo y Quisma, norte de Chile”, Boletín SIARB 7, pp. 38–47.