Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino

Cultures > Arid North > Inka in Chile

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Economy

The Inka’s main interest in Chile was its mineral wealth, and they extracted those resources through their labor tribute system (mita), in which community members were obliged to serve the imperial rulers. In this way they specialized the workforce, which in Chile led to more intense agricultural and livestock production to feed the mita laborers brought in to work the mines. In Central Chile the Inka mined gold and silver, while in the arid and semi-arid North they extracted copper. Most of what they produced was taken in crude form to special metallurgical centers in Northwest Argentina, although they also operated some smelters and toolmaking centers in Chile.