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vol.44 issue4PREHISPANIC ROADS AND ANCESTOR WORSHIP IN NORTHERN CHILE (ARICA-TARAPACÁ) DURING THE LATE INTERMEDIATE PERIOD AND LATE HORIZON (CA. 1,000-1,532 AD)SUCCESSION AMONG THE INCAS author indexsubject indexarticles search
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Chungará (Arica)

On-line version ISSN 0717-7356

Abstract

SANTORO, Calogero M et al. RISE AND DECLINE OF CHINCHORRO SACRED LANDSCAPES ALONG THE HYPERARID COAST OF THE ATACAMA DESERT. Chungará (Arica) [online]. 2012, vol.44, n.4, pp.637-653. ISSN 0717-7356.  http://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0717-73562012000400007.

The study of complex funerary ritual development among hunters and gatherers societies should take into account how people made up for the continuity of their social system without the support of centralized organizations. This research integrates cultural and natural factors to explore how the Chinchorro carried on with their way of life isolated at geographically restricted perennial river mouths with fresh water along the Atacama Desert in the Pacific coast of South America. Within these rather crowded settlings, they created and maintained a social system catalyzed by a complex funerary tradition, embodied by a unique funerary ideological discourse that resulted in the creation of a sacred landscape or "spiritscape". We argue that the extreme hyperaridity of the coastal Atacama Desert (21° - 17.30° S), and the extraordinary biomass production of the marine littoral constituted a fundamental milieu for the maintenance of their long-term social system. The Chinchorro belief system lasted for several millennia (8,000-4,000 BP), but new ways of life and burial practices followed major changes in the coastal ecosystem they relied on, which would have influenced how the "old tradition" was manifested over time. Conversely, we sustain that these natural "constraints" faced by the Chinchorro along the coast of the Atacama Desert, were influential, in the course of their history or the way they socially organized themselves.

Keywords : Chinchorro spiritscape; sacred landscape; hyperaridity; coastal Atacama Desert.

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