Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino

Cultures > Arid North > Hunter gatherers and coastal fishermen

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Settlement pattern

In the early stages of this period, the people lived in large or small villages made up of circular, half-buried dwellings grouped around a common patio. Their settlements were usually located around river mouths and ravines with a year-round source of fresh water. Their dwellings were used for both the living and the dead. They moved frequently along the coast, establishing temporary camps in small rock shelters close to coastal springs, or erecting and dismantling tent-like structures made of easily transported materials. In the times of European contact, the descendants of these ancient fishermen built their “rucas” (huts) with cactus wood pillars or whale bone covered with sea lion skins and reeds.