Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino

Cultures > Arid North > Hunter gatherers and coastal fishermen

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Economy

These coastal hunter-gatherer-fishers had a subsistence economy based on hunting, fishing and gathering of marine resources such as mollusks, fish, marine mammals and sea birds. They complemented their diet with land animals and plants from the Coastal Mountains. Sea lions were a central source of food, but they also provided bones for tools, as well as skins that the people sewed together and inflated to use as seagoing rafts. Sailing on these rafts enabled these groups to obtain food within a larger radius, allowing them to hunt for new kinds of prey (open ocean fish species and whales). At the same time, the use of copper to make hooks and other tools enhanced their fishing activities, allowing them to more fully exploit the nearby marine resources. Their diet was complemented with cultivated crops that they obtained through trade with the agricultural communities living inland in the North.