Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino

Cultures > Arid North > Tiwanaku in the north of Chile

Settlement pattern

The Altiplano State of Tiwanaku developed a hierarchical system of settlements that included, first of all, the capital of Tiwanaku. They also had secondary population centers for regional administration, third-order centers for local administration and countless fourth-order settlements based on agriculture and livestock production. The peasant class lived in modest dwellings with mud walls and straw roofs built upon mounds of earth among their farm fields. The Cabuza farmers of Azapa practiced a similar way of life, building rectangular dwellings with stone foundations and cane and reed roofs that they arranged in small groups close to their fields. Little is known of the settlement pattern of the Atacameña communities of this period, but it is known that they began to establish large scale ayllus (corporate kinship settlements) in the salt flat oases, though probably less densely than in pre-Tiwanaku times. Groups in both regions built cemeteries apart from their dwellings, some with large groupings of tombs.