Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino

Prehistory > Cultural evolution > Ways of Life


One of the great revolutions in human history was the domestication of plants. Once humans began cultivating plants, they quickly became the principal source of food in the human diet. The first definitive step in this process, after early experimentation, was the horticulturalist way of life. At a certain time, some human groups began to grow plants for food. In most parts of Chilean territory, this occurred by groups adopting knowledge already in use outside the territory. It was a gradual process, and for some time these societies continued to rely mainly on their ancestral hunter-gatherer way of life, hunting animals and gathering wild foods. Over time, however, the greatest change that the incorporation of horticultural technology caused—a decrease in nomadism, as the gardens, though small and watered naturally, needed to be tended—drastically changed the way of life of these early human groups.
This need to care for gardens led, for the first time in history, to groups of people living relatively close to each other for an extended period of time. Associated with this process in almost all cases was the development of ceramics, another key innovation in the horticulturalist way of life. Ceramic-making emerged in each region in different ways, but it certainly was only made possible when human groups began to live a more sedentary way of life. Ceramic technology, which produced the first synthetic materials in human history—i.e. materials elaborated by combining elements and creating conditions that do not occur in nature—enabled the storage, cooking, fermenting and transport of the earth’s bounty.

Modos de vida