Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino

Cultures > Arid North > Arica


The three distinct environments in which the groups of the Arica culture settled—mountain, valley and coast—allowed them access to complementary resources from different ecological strata. Surplus goods were moved by llama caravan, a form of transportation suited to this mountainous region. During this period, the people expanded the area available for growing by building farming terraces and platforms, along with irrigation canals. A large quantity of tools for working the land, including wood-handled stone shovels, point to the importance of farming among these groups. On the coast, the Arica people invented the “three-beamed raft,” which allowed deep water fishing of species such as eel and houndshark. Miniatures of these craft were laid with these fishermen in their graves. The guano that accumulated at sea bird nesting sites on the coast was taken inland to be used as fertilizer for farming. The Arica people also crafted copper into brooches, hooks and other instruments, and used gold and silver to make other ornaments.