The prehispanic identity of Arica


Dr. Renato Aguirre Bianchi
"The best of prophets of the future is the past" (Lord Byron)
One does not need to be very clever to recognize that Arica is very different from the rest of Chile. Although some civil authorities choose to ignore that fact and our community is not well versed in our history, there remains in Arica some Andean perfume that impregnates its territory and way of life. One can feel, smell and observe a multiethnic environment that originated thousands of years ago, which, along with the privileged geographic location of Arica, seems to anticipate a most promising future. In fact, the many peculiarities of Arica are in deep contrast with the bleached identity that Chile's Capital, Santiago, imposes upon the entire Republic, trying to consolidate an unlikely cultural and ethnic homogeneity.
It must be recognized that Chile had no historical possibility of incorporating Arica to its territory until the war with Perú and Bolivia during the late XIX century. Thereafter, Chile made a clever and intensive campaign to establish the Chilean nationality among our natives and to incorporate Arica to the administrative apparatus of the country. Yet this was organized from the Capital, forever ignorant of the Andean idiosyncrasy, thence incapable of preserving it to enrich the Republic. The strength of the chilenization process was such, that our identity had to be hidden in a clandestine level, much as did the Andean religion during the abusive catechization of the XV and XVI centuries. Even today, Arica has not been able to obtain a respectful treatment from the centralized Republic to which it now belongs. The lack of emphatic leaders and of a strong collective movement has gradually led Arica to a condition of second-rate territory unable to exploit its Andean vocation.
The dwindling of Arica's identity began during the XV century, when the Inca Empire conquered the circumtiticaca altiplano and imposed upon us its authority through Aymara lordships loyal to the Empire. The Arica Culture would soon entirely disappear. When the Spanish Conquistadores arrived, Arica became just a corridor to consolidate the plundering of America: even during the apogee of the silver mining at Potosí, Arica was no more than a provider of agricultural products and a busy seaport, served by just a few Spanish officials that finally decided to move to Tacna to avoid malaria, corsairs and buccaneers. Then, when it belonged to Perú, Arica had a miserable existence except for a bout of local patriotism when, on February 2 1826, our Major and the entire community, officially requested Simón Bolívar to incorporate our land to the newly formed Republic of Bolivia. The request did not materialize and Bolivia initiated a policy directed to harm Arica in order to stimulate the development of its own seaport.
When the war began in 1879, Arica had a population of just 4,013 people (9,051 if the rural Sierra is included), while the numbers for Tacna were 10,778 and 19,245 respectively. Once more, we were nothing but a strategic bastion that had to be conquered and so Arica became Chilean, as a wretched territory with no other importance than that of a military strategic place, despite 9,000 years as one of the most privileged places for the settlement of humans during the initiation of civilization.
After the request to Bolívar, there would be no more collective efforts to protect our land until the years preceding the free-zone and financial exemptions established in 1953. But then we did nothing to keep the merchants from using us giving nothing in return and here we are now, overwhelmed by centralism and other republican evils.
I am not suggesting a rebellion against the Capital that today restricts our Andean vocation, but I would like to contribute to a collective effort to obtain from Chile some respect for our idiosyncrasy in order to participate with dignity, on equal terms with Santiago and the rest of the country, in the adventure of making a better Chile, respectful of its history beyond the military achievements, its ethnic groups and local singularities. The “Independent Republic of Arica”, a phrase we often use to tease Chileans, has never existed and should be no more than a symbolic expression of our Andean vocation. But neither can Arica continue as a poor orphan that does not even appear in some maps used by Chile to promote itself abroad.
The exceptional qualities of our land contributed to a deep change in the life style of the archaic Andean Man, leading him towards the establishment of sedentary settlements, which is the origin of cultural acquisitions. During the following millennia the Andean Word gradually advanced to different organized societies sharing basic principles but differing in many ways. To explain our evolution, the following concepts must be understood:
Once the primitive nomadic bands acquired a higher cultural level, they specialized in one of three main but not exclusive activities: llama raising at the altiplano, maritime resources at the coast and agriculture at the intermediate zones. On the other hand, two styles of social progress were defined: the more “conventional” urban and despotic style of northern Perú and the rural, transhumantic style of the altiplano. Eventually, the latter would also develop Kingdoms of certain magnitude starting about 3,500 years before the present (BP), but less ethnocidal and less centralized than those of the Peruvian tradition. Arica was intensively influenced by Altiplanic societies but as in the neighboring coast, the population was organized in the form of multiple small units, independent lordships that did not transcend beyond their limits, with the exception of the Arica Culture that is the final object of this essay. But even this was a conglomerate of lordships. Between Paracas in southern Perú and San Pedro de Atacama near Antofagasta in Chile, there were no big urban centers irradiating culture.
The Archaic Period
The Acha Man
When a small group of almost naked hunters armed with stone-tipped spears discovered Arica about 9,000 years ago, the Andean World was populated by independent bands of primitive people that foraged the territory hunting auchenids, birds and rodents in the hostile mountain environment. In Arica they found an exceptional climate and a land without dangerous animals and hostile humans. The first Ariqueños, 10 to 15 individuals, established a temporary settlement where the Acha ravine meets the Azapa valley, just to the west of Cerro Sombrero. They built circular dwellings with a central hearth, delimited by two rows of stones and fragments of calcareous material from the coast. These might have affirmed wooden poles to hold walls made of  reeds and furs and a conical roof. They initiated a new style of subsistence: they became coastal hunter-gatherers, in contrast with the nomadic hunters of the altiplano. The site is today an informal dumping place, across the road from the El Buitre airfield. Soon after, other bands would settle in the neighborhood and still others discovered the advantages of living by the coast in other valleys, such as Tiliviche to the south. Very far away, the first human settlements of the Nile Valley were just appearing.
The stone instruments found in the oldest settlement (Acha-2) are appropriate to hunt auchenids and fish. The material of most of them is chalcedony (there is a quarry not very far from the coast) and some are of obsidian, a natural volcanic glass available at the mountains. The food of these bands was mainly based on mollusks, and fishes in a lesser proportion, along with some meat (¿auchenids?) and vegetables. Perhaps this people lived part of the year closer to the coast, and the settlement described could have provided them an occasional auchenid and might have been used as an intermediate place to get closer to the deposits of chalcedony that they needed to make their tools.
Nevertheless, although occasional hunters, their priority was the maritime resources and they fished with hooks made from cactus spines, hunted fishes and perhaps sea lions with harpoons and dived for mollusks. As a matter of fact, the first victim of  occupational diseases in Chile could well be the individual whose corpse was found in one of the tombs dug in the ground, since he had osteomata (osseous protuberances) of the external ear channel, a disease produced by repeated diving in cold water. There is one curious finding: judging from the sea shells found at the place, it seems that they dived along the rocky coast to the south of El Morro and for some unknown reason they did not care about the easily collected bivalves (soft clams, “machas”) that lay superficially buried in the sand of the long beach to the south of El Morro (Chinchorro or similar, since at that time the coastline must have been somehow different from today’s). The Acha Man reveals, according to Muñóz and Chacama, a “pattern of motility for subsistence”, meaning that people had to move around to take advantage of the resources that our generous land could provide, thousands of years before the advent of agriculture.
This pattern of subsistence applies to other archaic groups dwelling near Arica. About 4,000 years BP, there were groups of fishermen settled in the coast of Camarones Valley, which temporarily occupied another site some 40km from the coast (Conanoxa), probably to provide themselves of the chalcedony that they needed for their stone tools (Schiappacasse).
But these examples do not mean that our archaic ancestors had a homogeneous life style. Before the archaic settlers of Conanoxa , more than 6,000 years BP according to Lautaro Núñez, at Tiliviche (a narrow valley between Arica and Iquique), archaic hunters could have begun to raise guinea pigs in a temporary settlement.
All this configures a scheme of utilization of our lower lands by different groups of valley hunters and coastal fishermen that took advantage, however they could, of our feeding resources and the materials for their stone instruments, establishing non-permanent settlements occupied more or less intensively according to their needs. The density of the population must have been low, since the resources were limited. Then, specialization and further technical improvements materialized in the Archaic Period: the Chinchorro cultural complex appeared, basing its existence on a more sophisticated exploitation of maritime resources.
Chinchorro initiates Arica’s singularity
One to two thousand years after the Acha Man settled in Arica, the Chinchorro “culture” was established in Arica and neighboring places. Just like the Acha Man, they had Amazonian genes and might have arrived from the coast of southern Perú. As a matter of fact, both ethniae share many morphologic similitudes, but the Chinchorro people introduced two important cultural elements:
The most spectacular achievement was the initiation of artificial mummification about 7,500 years BP. On a world scale, these are the oldest artificial mummies (details available in another article at this website and at That the Egyptians mummified the corpses of their elite social strata 2,000 years latter, is not as spectacular as the Chinchorro practice, an archaic society in the Stone Age that not only invented artificial mummies but applied the procedure without social discrimination. This, rather than the time record, is what confers them a singularity without paragon in the history of mankind.
The other outstanding achievement of the Chinchorros is their life style. The richness of our sea allowed them to adopt a rough draught of  sedentarism thanks to an ingenious specialization in fishing and hunting of maritime animals, even though their social organization was primitive, based on bands without social strata, probably leaded by the man most efficient as provider of  food. Among their prey were fishes such as flounders, Jack mackerels and related species, stripped mullet, silver fish and “pejeperro” (Pimelomotepon maculatus), sea lions and dolphins. Among mollusks, they preferred abalone and mussels rather than soft clams (“machas”), limpets (“lapas”) and clams. They had the enviable privilege of enjoying  crawfish from our valleys, apparently their favorite delicacy.
Sedentarism and easily available food means spare time. When the Chinese already had a long experience with agriculture and sheeps and goats had already been domesticated in the Near East, the Chinchorros would just fish, collect mollusks and from time to time ascend the valley to try to hunt a vizcacha (Peruvian hare, Lagidium sp.), an auchenid or an Andean deer (taruka). Since hunger was not a problem and they were not burdened with the time-consuming agricultural activity, there was spare time for the complex process of mummification that seems to have begun in the estuary of Camarones. We may conclude that, more than 7,000 years BP, Arica was a very special place on a world scale.
The fate of the Chinchorros is open to discussion. It is said that those that persevered in the life style of the Archaic Period became the primitive Changos that the Spaniards found along the coasts of northern Chile. These Changos became important during de XIX century, at the beginning of the exploitation of nitrate, since they embarked the cargo with their rafts of inflated sea-lion fur. Nevertheless, it is possible to presume that some Chinchorro bands became primitive farmers, thereby initiating the subsequent deep social transformation (Formative Period) from which the Arica culture eventually evolved.
It seems that sometime during the Formative Period, people from the altiplano discovered the geological, climatic, maritime and economic wonders of Arica and its upper lands. From time to time they organized expeditions to the coast to exchange food. Fancy feathers of jungle birds from the other side of the Andes and quinoa seeds, a grain that grows at the altiplano, have been found in Chinchorro tombs suggesting an early interaction with remote Andean people.
The people from the altiplano, with an already prolonged tradition of transhumance and pressed by their climate, the increasing population that triggered the domestication of auchenids (more than 4,000 years ago), and the need to increase their agricultural supplies (a source of nourishment that became progressively important some 6,000 years ago), were forced to expand their territory and occupy Altiplanic lands even more inhospitable than those surrounding Lake Titicaca.
It is possible that some 3,500 years ago, citizens of the social structures that preceded the Pukara Culture (to the north of the lake), had already established with our coastal people a style of commerce mediated by llama caravans, thus gaining access to our products. Through that process, they strongly influenced the cultural development of our people.
Towards the end of what archeologists denominate Archaic Period, before the advent of agriculture and pottery, our people begins to gather in more stable communities, although they continue being “archaic”. An example of that period could be the settlement of Caleta Quiani. That village, near the fishing industries of today, began about 4,500 years BP and it may have been initiated by Chinchorros that eventually, perhaps 3,500 years ago, abandon the practice of artificial mummification. Yet they still obtain their nourishment hunting and collecting seafood and they live in very primitive dwellings: a superficial excavation of the ground that protects a hearth, with a semicircular parapet of furs sustained by wooden poles or whale ribs to stop the wind. They deserve a few lines because it is at that site where the first decorated baskets appear. Besides, wool became common (earlier “blankets” were made from furs or vegetal matts), the collective tombs typical of the Chinchorro Culture were replaced by individual burials with the corpse laid in an horizontal position with flexed legs, and it is believed that they cultivated squash in a primitive way.
There must have been a transcendental evolution of religious ideas and the concept of the world beyond death to explain the abandonment of artificial mummification. The Quiani society is therefore at the brim of a new version of  Arica’s ethos. The remarkable attention given to the human head, a trait that would eventually become even more evident, manifests itself by a complex cephalic ornament consisting of a short hair bun used by men in a high and lateral position.
The evolution of the Formative Period between the Archaic and the Early Intermediate periods (primitive agriculture) raises an important question: Was agriculture in Arica initiated by our coastal habitants (Caleta Quiani for example) or by Altiplanic immigrants? I will assume that the first possibility is closer to the truth, mainly to stress the fact that too much attention has been given to the undisputed Altiplanic cultural influence at the expense of the autochthonous development capabilities of neighboring coastal populations.
This stage of cultural evolution, which has been compared with the Early Neolithic of Europe, is characterized by the initiation of agriculture and pottery, the establishment of small villages  rather than transient settlements, and a very primitive metallurgy. Among the tools were bone and/or wooden and copper fishing hooks, harpoons, arch and arrows and tubes for the inhalation of hallucinogens through the nostrils. Among the early cultives are cotton, squash (Cucurbita maxima), chili pepper (Capsicum sp.),  achira (Canna edulis) and pallares (a type of big beans). Sweet potatoes (Hipomea batata) and some maize were brought from the high and middle valleys and “yuca” (manioc, Manihot utilissima) was “imported” from the Amazonian lands to the east of the Andes. The Formative Period marks the end of the archaic life style and the practice of artificial mummification and leads our people to the cultural adventure of the Early Intermediate Period.
The advent of agriculture in Arica
The identity of Arica is not related in any way to the unusual practice of artificial mummification during the Chinchorro period. Its earlier manifestations begin when this cultural phase languishes and agriculture appears in the Azapa Valley. As in the rest of the world, this activity marks the beginning of a more sophisticated social organization and the acquisition of cultural patterns that would rapidly evolve.
The practice of agriculture had a non-spectacular initiation in Azapa. Santoro defined the “Azapa Phase” as an experimental stage of  agriculture and pottery that began not far from the coast more than 3,000 years BP. At this stage there are some cultural manifestations that suggests the influence of coastal populations of southern Perú (Paracas), such as pyrographied gourds, snake-shaped copper ornaments and the technique used in the elaboration of textiles. It is the beginning of a profound change in the life style of the people of Arica. I guess that the demographic growth forces them to adopt more reliable and abundant resources (agriculture), perhaps motivated by the influence of the Altiplanics, a growing tendency already seen at our lower lands. Agriculture, no doubt indeed, implies a heavier human servitude to the process of obtaining feeding  resources and leaves no spare time to elaborate mummies.
Other populations of the Formative Period are Faldas del Morro (800 b.C.) and El Laucho (530 a.C.), settlements of fishermen-gatherers with a primitive knowledge of agriculture, whose peculiarity resides in the introduction of pottery (primitive squash-shaped pots), loom-woven textiles and metallurgy (spoons, copper fishing hooks and pins to hold the head turban). We have reached a period of incipient sedentarism which, all over the world, comes along with the appearance of pottery. These people introduce hallucinogens for their ritual practices, and arch and arrows. Their burials express the influence of coastal populations of southern Perú: the collective graves of the Chinchorro phase are replaced by individual burials with the corpse laying in lateral decubitus with flexed lower extremities, wrapped by a wool drape. The primitive loin covering of vegetal fiber used by the Chinchorro and Caleta Quiani population becomes more sophisticated: short skirts of wool cords or leather, besides shirts and sandals. It is not unrealistic to suppose that they already performed prudent short-range sea navigations astride a log. The outstanding reverence for the human head becomes even more evident with the wearing of more complicated turbans in the form of voluminous woolen hanks wrapped around the head; besides, some corpses were decapitated sometime after being buried. The practice of cranial artificial deformations, already seen among the Chinchorros, becomes more popular and radical.
As I learned from Oscar Espoueys, a self-made archeologist that is among those that initiated the autochthonous archeology, what is remarkable about Faldas del Morro and El Laucho is that they initiate in Arica social organizations with some concern for the community. In other words, the band is replaced by the village. The arrival of Altiplanic caravaneers introduced and stimulated the need of sumptuary goods like ornaments and also, as they came to “buy”, we had to work to procure a surplus to negotiate.
Alto Ramírez, the first settlement that consolidated an agricultural economy in Arica, originated from earlier settlements in the Azapa Valley some 10km from the beach, about 3,000 years BP. They initially coexisted with the last Chinchorros, with a life style similar to the people of Faldas del Morro and El Laucho.
Later, 2,500 years ago, when the sociopolitical unit of Pukara was evolving at the north of the Titicaca Lake, Alto Ramírez had matured towards a peculiar culture with a stratum of governing elite, different from other populations of Arica and under a strong Altiplanic influence. They were so successful  that they dominated the Azapa Valley and irradiated their culture to the south of Perú and down to the Loa River. Meanwhile, El Laucho people occupied the coast.
During the Alto Ramírez phase, agriculture became a way of life with the initiation of intensive exploitation of maize. Other achievements were a small-scale metallurgy (copper, silver, and gold) and specialized basketry and textilery. Altiplanic icons and beliefs became common, such as geometric designs, figures with facial appendages that may represent the God Tunupa, human sacrifices and, once again, a further emphasis in the cult of the human head. Now the skull becomes a ritual object, sometimes with a framework of vegetal strips and a handle to carry it around during ritual ceremonies. To stress the importance of the interaction with coastal populations of southern Perú, it must be taken into consideration that, despite the strong Altiplanic influence of the Alto Ramírez people, at that time the Paracas also had an emphatic cult to the human head and their pottery showed trophy-heads.
The dwellings of the Alto Ramírez people were circular or rectangular, scattered along a flat terrain to the south of Azapa Valley’s river, delimited by hills to the east and west and along a meandering water course that flowed from the south (Llosyas’s brook).
They had a peculiar way to bury their dead. Corpses were laid in lateral decubitus with lower extremities flexed, often decapitated, dismembered and/or with the column bent backwards. They were then covered with vegetable matts and soil material, eventually forming mounds, some of them still visible near the Golf Club and at San Miguel’s cemetery. There, under the surface of the funerary moulds, there are contemporary tombs that give this place the attribute of one of the oldest cemeteries of the world. It is striking that similarly shaped funerary moulds were used by the ancient populations of Europe more than 4,000 years ago, although different in that they had a channel surrounding them and entrance to the tombs, which were protected by a dolmen. Our funerary moulds might have been inspired by the truncated ceremonial pyramids built around the Titicaca Lake by the Pukara and Chiripa cultures. Our oldest mould is just 2,500 years old and the most conspicuous one that remains is called “The Grandfather” and is topped by a sign warning that it is a cultural remain protected by law, a laudable effort of Luis Briones, an academic art historian. His initiative has been only partially successful since too many moulds have been demolished by contemporary farmers.
The drastic alterations of the corpses is not an isolated trait of Alto Ramírez. Some of them might have been ritually sacrificed to satisfy a baleful Altiplanic entity widely present in the ancient Andean World, The Decapitator, but most cadavers were disturbed before being inhumed. This is an intriguing mortuary ritual observed in many other places of the Andes and beyond. The oldest evidence of secondary burials in Arica are, of course, the Chinchorro mummies, but there is evidence that the hunters of the sierra practiced secondary burials and post mortem manipulation of the body. In a Cave in Patapatane, at 3,800m of altitude, the remains of the body of a young woman from about 6,000 years BP was found with clear evidence of  deliberate alteration: mutilation, dismemberment, bone fractures and emptying of cranial contents. At the time of deposition, the head was placed on the surface of the trunk (Santoro, Standen and Arriaza). The head is also often misplaced in non-mummified early and late Chinchorro and post-Chinchorro burials. All over the Andes the skull was artificially deformed during childhood, a ritual that reached northern Chile about 4,000 years ago. Secondary burials and the special attention given to the head being a widely distributed ritual in the Andes, demonstrate that, even in archaic times and despite singularities such as Chinchorro’s mummies, there is some unity in the beliefs of the many different ethnic groups. That is why I use the concept of Andean Word so often: we can say that the basic “material” was common, but in different places rather small social units developed their own variations since the geologic conditions that shapes human behavior were so diverse. This is what makes this World such a rich one.
Back to Alto Ramírez, contrasting with the complex mortuary ritual, the dwellings were very primitive, with reed walls and a roof of totora (cattail). For their shepherding activities they used dogs and slings. They wore sandals more sophisticated than those of  the Formative Period, the typical Andean shirt without sleeves (“unku”), waistbands and fungus-shaped multicolor woolen bonnets. The design of their pottery was almost as primitive as during the El Morro phase, but the technique of elaboration was improved.
There is something that must be remarked about Alto Ramírez. Although the interaction of our people with the Altiplanics can be traced to the Chinchorro Culture, it is at Alto Ramírez where they seem to acquire a special interest for our lands. If the archeological evidence is interpreted with a bit of imagination, one could believe that during this period the Altiplanic Kingdoms sent “agents” to “convert” our people to their benefit, with their agricultural technology as a solid argument. Espoueys shared with me a novel, non-published working hypothesis. Now involved in the investigation of cranial deformations, he found an unexpected proportion of brachycephalic individuals in the site AZ-115, close to the University Archeological Museum at San Miguel, an area formerly occupied by Alto Ramírez. These people with a cephalic conformation different from that of the locals and their concentration in such a specific place, could well be the physical evidence of the task of Altiplanic proselytism.
The Middle Intermediate Period
The results of the Altiplanic mission at Alto Ramírez must have been favorable, since they soon established settlements in the Azapa Valley that gave them access to crops that could not be grown at the highlands. The Cabuzas that would follow, mark the initiation of the Middle Intermediate Period in Arica, characterized by the Altiplanic domination of our valleys. Sometime before 400 a.C. and the expansion of the Tiwanaku Empire, the Cabuzas settled in the upper and middle part of our valleys, with their peculiar four-pointed head caps, shirts of superior quality, purse-waistbands, arch and arrows and their “keros” (ceremonial vessels with a wide mouth, used to drink “chicha”, a fermented beverage prepared, in Arica, mainly from “pink pepper”, Schinus molle). They introduced coca leaves, some tools such as wooden mattocks and weapons such as “macanas” (a sort of cudgel consisting of a stick with a stone at the end). They raised llamas and alpacas and cultivated maize, squash, beans, quinoa, sweet potatoes and other products that they commercialized at the altiplano, transported by llama caravans, possible protected by “soldiers”.
Among their beliefs stand out the worship of condor, felines, auchenids and the phallus.  They used hallucinogens infrequently, probably reserving them for shamanic practices. They initiated inhumations in a squatting position ¾a trait that would remain until the arrival of the Spaniards¾, decorated pottery for burial offerings and introduced the “orejones” in Arica, elite individuals who pierced and elongated their ear lobes, a practice that would become important for the Incas, almost 1,000 years latter.
There is no doubt that the Cabuzas did not establish villages isolated from the local people. Their relationship with Alto Ramírez must have been intense, since they used the same spaces for their cemeteries and deposited offers over the funerary moulds. It is possible to suppose that the Cabuza population of the lower social stratus was conformed by locals that were “converted” by the Altiplanics in one way or another. Three centuries later, when the Maytas ethnic group appears in Arica, they too related closely with Cabuzas. In the cemeteries of Cabuzas, typically installed at the foot of the walls of the valley, the tombs of the Cabuzas were above those of Las Maytas people. This emphasizes what I repeat with insistence: in Arica we lived, from the Archaic to the Late Intermediate Period, and intensive complementary interaction among many ethnic groups, although often with some elements of confrontation.
A short time after the arrival of Cabuzas, a transcendental sociopolitical event consolidates the Tiwanaku Kingdom at the southern end of Lake Titicaca, when they overcame the influence of the northern Pukara Kingdom. Tiwanaku acquires control over the entire Titicaca basin but, fertile lands needed to feed their growing population blocked by the expansion of the despotic Wari Empire of northern Perú, they were forced to take advantage of the agricultural capacity of Arica and neighboring places, mainly Moquegua. From there, they consolidated a rather bland domination, incorporating Cabuzas as a related ethnic group, but keeping them at a certain distance as subordinate and inferior people.
Las Maytas, the first “patriots”
It is during this Middle Intermediate Period that the seed of Arica’s identity appears in the form of Las Mayta’s cultural phase (800 a.C.). After a long debate, today prevails the idea that Las Maytas is not a consequence of the evolution of the Altiplanic Cabuzas, but an ethnic group of  “Ariqueños”/Peruvians of coastal origins. Even though closely related with Cabuzas and occupying the same spaces and cemeteries, probably as subordinates, their interaction eventually became tense and they did all they could to differentiate their identity from the Altiplanic influence. The pukara of San Lorenzo in the Azapa Valley, formerly occupied by Alto Ramírez during the Early Intermediate Period and then by the Altiplanics, might not have became a real defensive structure but a walled precinct that played the role of an administrative center for Las Maytas (and latter, Arica Culture), perhaps trying to “emphasize their non-subordinated condition” (Espoueys et al.).
Some curious situations match with the hypothesis of Las Maytas’ emancipation. During the ‘60s, Espoueys excavated the Cabuza site AZ-3 in the Azapa Valley, some 20km from the coast (now in the process of becoming a maracuyá ¾passion fruit¾ plantation). An interesting Cabuza/Las Maytas cemetery was found there: some of the more sophisticated Cabuza tombs had been violated, their contents dumped under river stones nearby and then occupied by mortuary remains of Las Maytas. That peculiar situation, also seen at other sites, is in agreement with three obvious facts, explained by Espoueys et al:
1.- The Altiplanic Cabuza/Tiwanaku pottery does no reach the coast, who knows if because they can not occupy that space or it does not interest them, while the first Las Maytas pottery begins at the coast and, besides, in their mortuary offers there are models of cattail rafts. In other words, unlike Cabuza/Tiwanaku, Las Maytas shows a coastal tradition.
2.- Alto Ramírez dominated the valley when Cabuzas arrived and were then relegated to the lower social status. Nevertheless, Focacci has found evidence suggesting that they eventually began to establish tight bonds with the El Laucho coastal population. It seems thus possible that the feeling of being Arica’s naturals, a chauvinistic attitude that we will call “Ariqueñismo”, was capable of enduring the Altiplanic control and, even more, tried to consolidate different ethnic groups despite the foreign domination. Here, I have to make clear that the concept of Ariqueñismo before the Spaniards is not limited to this province of Chile, but is inseparable from the coast of southern Perú. In fact, there are not ancient historical arguments justifying the division of this geologic and cultural unit into the different contemporary Nations.
3.- Las Maytas tried to draw away from what is Altiplanic. Its textiles, keros, spoons and decorated gourds follow the lines of the tradition of Alto Ramirez, whereas the decoration of its pottery comes from the south of Perú, albeit the technical details of manufacture are related to Cabuzas. Their use of Alto Ramirez’ standards leads Espoueys at al to wonder if that is revealing “a political maneuver by which Las Maytas population tries to figure as descendants of Alto Ramírez, seeking a justification to force a declining Tiwanaku to recognize them [as representatives of Arica’s naturals] to be able to negotiate the valley’s surplus” that the Altiplanics needed because of their not self-sufficient economy. If that is so, we do not know if Las Maytas has a direct genetic relationship with Alto Ramírez.
Although the origin of Las Maytas would lead us to an analysis that is beyond the scope of this essay, we can figure out a scene of Altiplanic domination upon a local valley population (Alto Ramírez) that incites non-converted Ariqueños to strengthen the relationship between the valley and the coast. Then a local ethnic group develops into a recognizable identity (Las Maytas) that revitalizes the coastal tradition  of southern Perú and, being in possession of both valley and coastal traditions, at some time decides to neutralize the cultural weight and political dominion of the Altiplanics. If that is so, we have just met our first “patriots”.
But, as I already said, we must go beyond Chile to understand our patriotism. Following the interpretation of Espoueys, an authority on Azapa’s archeology, Las Maytas represents the common root from the Middle Intermediate Period from which originate two different branches inserted in the scope of Regional Lordships during the following Period (Late Intermediate): San Miguel in Arica and Chiribaya at the southern coast of Perú.
Las Maytas pottery, although initially maintaining some Cabuza elements, adds white to the black decoration upon red background of the Cabuzas. That allows for a continuous complementation of colors that, for the first time in Arica, strongly evokes the Andean philosophy of opposing complements. Thus, a new autochthonous style is born, most likely following a regional ideal, which is at the root of the San Miguel style of the Arica Culture.
Their textiles maintain the elaboration techniques of the Cabuzas and some other parameters, but these never show complex decorative elements, whereas Las Maytas’ decoration of ch’uspas (some sort of woolen purses), inkuñas (quadrangular pieces of cloth used to carry light objects and to deposit the offerings to the Gods) and other pieces, eventually become decorated with complex figures. Among them, the bicephalic snake stands out, most likely imported from the coast of Perú since it was already present in Paracas. This element will persist in the decoration of San Miguel’s textiles during the next period, Arica Culture, demonstrating the relationship with southern Perú, already evident during the Faldas del Morro phase.
I repeat once again that not all cultural traits of our progress comes from the altiplano. Moreover, the reader must understand that we, as Ariqueños of prehispanic times, were the result of the interaction of the altiplano with our coastal as well as Peruvian populations. Before contemporary nations, there was a “country” that may be called Circumtiticaca, with a very long history, and Arica was one of its prettiest “provinces”. Somewhere in the course of history, we lost our way: we now belong to a country that shows very little interest for our past, present and future...
Late Intermediate Period (Arica Culture)
After the Aymara invasion of Tiwanaku and its consequent collapse (XI century), Arica was free to define its own life style (Arica Culture), politically characterized by small lordships controlling territories without a precise frontier with their neighbors. Besides the economic bonanza brought by the direct control of the production of our valleys, there were some phenotypic changes. We still had a heavy load of Amazonian genes mixed with those of  Wankarani and Tiwanaku ethnic identities of the altiplano, but what is striking during that period is the ethnic homogeneity of our low valleys and coast, although the valley dwellers (“coles”) seemed to be wealthier and have more prestige than the “camanchacas or cavanchas” of the coast. A third group from the highlands can be defined (Charcollo), although its cultural expression through pottery appeared during the Middle Intermediate Period.
It must be recalled that during the Middle Intermediate Period, the lowlands of Arica were occupied by many ethnic groups: coastal camanchacas from El Laucho, coles from Alto Ramírez, Altiplanics (Cabuza and Tiwanaku) and that peculiar people from Las Maytas with so much cultural baggage from southern Perú.
Tiwanaku was replaced by a myriad of Aymara Kingdoms that occupied the altiplano, but they still needed our production. To counteract their invasive eagerness, fortified villages (pukaras) were built along hundreds of kilometers. They were built in places hard to access and there lived the farmer-soldiers with their families and some animals, in dwellings with a stone base and reed walls, or they were kept prepared to serve as a temporary refuge for farmers in case of a martial threat. These pukaras are often close to the villages in the highlands where the valleys begin (he who controls water, dominates the valley). The evidence from the pottery found at those places suggests that the dwellers of many of these highland villages, such as Huaihuarani, Incauta and others, were both Aymaras from the altiplano (Pacajes and Carangas most likely) and Ariqueños from the lowlands, once more demonstrating a basic multiethnic unity beyond the temporal shifts of rulers. Most of the highland pukaras lie along an almost straight line were Ariqueños interacted intensively with Altiplanic Aymaras.
Arica Culture had a well-defined social identity which consisted in populations occupying the lower and middle part of the valleys, dedicated to an agromaritime activity under the rule of a chieftain whose power was limited to the reduced territory occupied by his people. Close to contemporary Arica, the most conspicuous remains of this period are those of Cerro Sombrero. Besides the agricultural production, maritime fishing became more sophisticated, with wooden rafts to catch big fishes such as croaker (Cilus montii), dogfish (Mustelus mento) and other fishes far from the coast, such as tuna fish (Thunnus sp.), dolphin fish (Parona signata) and even whales and conger (Genypterus sp.), which, once salted and dried, was a much appreciated product for exchanging merchandises with Altiplanic llama caravans. It is likely that coastal camanchacas had already “imported” from the south the sea-lion fur rafts used by the Changos when the Spaniards arrived.
Directly or indirectly, the origins of Arica Culture (1,000 a.C.) can be traced to the Cabuza settlements during the Middle Intermediate Period, since they triggered in some way the emergence of Las Maytas. San Miguel is the first cultural manifestation of Arica Culture and it is the direct consequence of the cultural adventure of Las Maytas. They occupied the lands where today lies the homonymous village, about 10km from the coast.
Its pottery deserves some comments since it shows once again how plural, interlaced and multiethnic continued to be Arica, despite its recently obtained “independence”. It is characterized by a creamy-white background with ornaments in black initially derived from Las Maytas. The details about how Las Maytas’ pottery evolved to San Miguel’s are unknown. The former had a red background and ornaments in red and black, thence, San Miguel modified two parameters: the background color and, initially, looses the red ornaments. These changes could represent the influence of Killakas, an Aymara Kingdom from the south of Lake Poopó, whose pottery (Taltape style) has the same colors of early San Miguel’s although the decorative elements are different. Taltape pottery is rarely found in Arica and is more common in Pica, an oasis at the hinterland of Iquique, which has the same latitude of Killaka’s territory. According to L. Núñez, Pica was a vital point for the communications between the meridional altiplano and the coast and of course it communicated with Arica since textiles, baskets and pyrographied gourds of San Miguel tradition are often found in Pica. Thence, Taltape induces the adoption of colors by San Miguel, but the decoration motives of Las Maytas survive. Soon, San Miguel pottery would become tricolor by recovering the red color of Las Maytas, but now with original patterns.
Three centuries after San Miguel, Arica Culture develops the pottery style called Gentilar. Cabuza, Las Maytas, San Miguel, Gentilar and latter Pocoma, are traditions that appeared in that order but do not necessarily replaced the former. As a matter of fact, during the Late Intermediate Period of Arica Culture all these styles coexist in the middle and lower parts of the valleys, while at the highlands predominates the pottery of the styles Charcollo, Chilpe (pre-Inca altiplanic) along with San Miguel, Gentilar and Pocoma. Although the apogee of Las Maytas and Cabuza dates back to the Middle Intermediate Period, some populations would subsist during the Late Intermediate, perhaps relegated to poorer lands.
It is clear that Aymara Kingdoms needed the food we obtained from our sea and valleys. So they organized long llama caravans that descended to negotiate our products, exchanging them for ch’arki (salted and dried auchenid meat), ch’uñu (dried potatoes) and wool. The caravans would still play an important commercial role up to the beginning of XX century, although llamas were eventually replaced by mules. Even after that and until a few decades ago, caravaneers from Bolivia (called “marchantes”) still traded goods with our highlanders.
If you travel to Arica, you can not miss a visit to the geoglyphs called “La Tropilla”, near the Golf Club. Just to the west lies the village of Cerro Sombrero, with the remains of hundreds of dwellings at middle altitude in the slope of the hill, to avoid mosquitoes. That village was temporarily occupied by Ariqueños when it was time to take care of their crops rather than to fish and/or collect seafood. It also served to deal with the caravans. If you have understood what I have tried to explain in these pages and liberate your imagination, you will “see” the Altiplanic Aymaras camping at the foot of the geoglyph panel, resting after three weeks of travel, expecting to meet in the morrow the Ariqueños, themselves lodging at the village. Both groups would offer tokens to their Gods, asking for a favorable deal. The leaders would perhaps walk a mile to the south to pay respect to the three “dancers”, a geoglyph panel of a very different style, probably for ceremonial purposes. La Tropilla depicts all the history of the Aymara caravans and has symbols that represent their beliefs: complementary opposites, shaman, supernatural spirits (mallkus), maleness and femaleness. To them the caravaneers would dedicate ceremonies for the outcome of their transactions. As my friend and anesthesiologist says, Arica is an open book covered with the insipid dust of Chilean disregard for its non-military history: if you learn our “language”, you can read in our land fascinating chapters about the Andean World. I prefer to say that the Pachamama (Mother Earth) loves to reveal her history to those that understand their sons...
Late Period: The end of Arica Culture
If one is to follow Espoueys’ hypothesis, Las Maytas originated from autochthonous coastal farmers and, if they were the seed of Arica Culture, we can then draw an evolutive line from Chinchorro, Formative farmers (Azapa, Faldas del Morro, El Laucho) up to Las Maytas in the Middle Intermediate Period, ending with the “coles” of San Miguel and “camanchacas” of Gentilar. This evolution, it must be remarked, was strongly influenced by the cultural development of the altiplano and, perhaps to a greater degree than what the conventional scheme suggests, by the cultural evolution of the coast of the south of Perú.
After more than 400 years of existence of the independent Arica Culture, the Incas made an alliance with the Lupaca Aymara Kingdom to conquer the powerful Colla Kingdom. After that, they dominated the entire Titicaca basin, altiplano and yungas (lowlands). As a reward, Lupacas obtained privileges for the exploitation of the valleys Moquegua, Sama, Tacna and Lluta and then the Pacajes initially occupied part of the highlands of Arica. During the Inca Empire, they controlled our territory through the authority of Aymara Kingdoms, even though there were a few Inca administrative centers at the highlands, such as Incahullo and Chajpa near Belén, Zapahuira, Molle Grande near Codpa, Mollepampa at Lluta Valley and Puriza at the high part of Azapa Valley.
The “incanized” Aymaras eventually caused the disappearance of Arica Culture, as they had destroyed Tiwanaku. Soon after arrived the Spaniards and they destroyed all Andean social organizations, seriously damaging the extraordinary and unique Andean World. Who knows what would have became the circumtiticaca version of this Word, the cradle and inspiration of all human achievements of Central-West South America, without the contribution of the low valleys and the coast, among which Arica was one of the most important places. In what refers to its identity, Arica was almost destroyed by the “incanized” Aymaras of the Late Period, then by the Spaniards, the Peruvian administration and finally by the Chileans.
It must be said that Aymaras, although now identified as Arica’s naturals, are immigrants. They acquired control of the altiplano during the Late Intermediate Period, triggering the final destruction of the declining Tiwanaku Empire. Then they began to expand to our highlands and to interact, not always in a pacific way, with our original population, generically called “Yungas” as the Indians of the lowlands at the other side of the Andes. They then dominated our land as delegates of the Inca Empire and triggered the disappearance of Arica Culture.
It seems that Caranga Aymaras dominated our high valleys at the arrival of the Spaniards. The Caranga Kingdom comprised about 35,000 Indians, in contrast to the 100,000 Lupacas occupying the more productive lands at the western bank of the Titicaca Lake. The Caranga Capital was located in poorer lands between Lake Poopó and the Occidental Andes (Cerro Capurata, near Guallatiri). They had control over fertile lands at Cochabamba, Chuquisaka (now Sucre) and our valleys. They established small productive centers in our high valleys (Livilcar and Humagata in Azapa, Sora in Lluta), controlled by “secondary control centers” with productive and redistribution functions like Socoroma in Lluta and where now is Belén.
Despite the intense mixture of ethnic groups that took place during the Inca Empire, there must still remain some people whose lineage can be traced to the real original Ariqueños, the Yungas of Arica Culture. That is something that stimulates me: I know of at least one person who is very well versed in these matters, who believes that he descends from the Yungas. If I could identify a few others, we could create a sort of Yunga Organization to dignify the most outstanding manifestation of ariqueñismo, of course including southern Perú.
To understand what I have written, one must forget about Chile, Perú and Bolivia and think about the unity of coastal populations of Central-West South America and the Altiplano. Today may be difficult to integrate all this artificially segmented territory, but it must be said that, for instance, San Miguel and Gentilar could have had an even stronger representation to the north of the Chilean-Peruvian frontier than in the Azapa Valley. I do believe that a contemporary nationalistic priority obscures the real events of our history. Yet another reason to think that Arica, in its deepest meaning, has nothing to do with Chile...

Our multiethnic vocation
Summarizing a prolonged peculiarity of Arica, we could conclude that our rich interaction of ethnic groups is expressed along several levels and spaces:
1.- Vertical level (coastal and mountain ecological niches): Altiplanics influencing Ariqueños of the Formative Period (Faldas del Morro and El Laucho), Early and Middle Intermediate Periods (Alto Ramírez and Cabuza), Late Period (Altiplanic Kingdoms delegated by the Incas to control Arica) and Colonial Period (Carangas, “owners” of our high valleys).
2.- Horizontal level (different latitudes along the coastal strip): Archaic populations from Perú (Acha, Chinchorro), Peruvian coastal tradition of Las Maytas, Tiwanaku controlling Arica from Moquegua.
3.- Temporal space: Cabuzas and Las Maytas from the Middle Intermediate Period survived, although relegated to less productive lands, along the Late Intermediate of Arica Culture. The latter shows a similar pattern since San Miguel (1,000 a.C.) precedes Gentilar (around 1,300 a.C.) and Pocoma but the tradition survived until the Inca domination. The Charcollo tradition of the highlands appears during the Middle Intermediate Period but becomes the highland manifestation of Arica Culture during the Late Intermediate. Finally, the last manifestations of the Cabuza tradition, its beginning dating back to near 400 a.C., are seen near 1,400 a.C.
To emphasize the complexity of the interaction among different ethnic groups, Espoueys relates that in Alto Ramírez there used to be a funerary mould with overlapped burials from Azapa phase (Formative), Alto Ramírez (Early Intermediate), Cabuza (Middle Intermediate) and Inca (Late Period). What is remarkable is that there is a temporal hiatus since there are no burials of the Arica Culture (Late Intermediate Period): they either avoided the place or were kept out of it.
The golden age of “ariqueñismo”, including the south of Perú, is that of the Arica Culture during the Late Intermediate Period. That culture developed in the context of Regional Lordships that affected Central-West South America after the collapse of Tiwanaku. During this period there was an intense and often tense complementary interaction with the Aymaras of the altiplano, whose interface was located at the highlands, where our rivers and valleys begin. From Zapahuira to the north to down south to Camarones, one can draw an almost straight line from one pukara to the other, in whose village there are remains of pottery from the tradition of the coast and the middle and low valleys (Gentilar, Pocoma, San Miguel), Arica highland (Charcollo) and Altiplanic preinca Aymara (Chilpe). These are the physical remains of an intensive and rich cultural and economic exchange.
Later, during the middle of XV century, our identity became “aymarized” when the Inca Empire dominated the altiplano. In contrast with the ethnocidal context of the Spanish conquest, the Incas did not destroy entirely the Aymara World. The occidental Aymara Kingdoms received privileges to obtain resources from the coast and valleys of southern Perú and northern Chile. If you observe the map, you will see that it was natural that Lupacas got the territory from Lluta Valley to the north, Pacajes got Azapa and Carangas Azapa and Camarones. To the south, Killakas get Pica and Lípez interact with the Atacameños from San Pedro de Atacama. But this extreme abstraction should not be understood in the absolute context by which we define today’s nations since, once again, I must insist that the interaction among ethnic groups is so intense all along the “Circumtiticaca Country”, that extends along the planes and spaces already defined.
Today it is hard to find a descendant of the ariqueños (Yungas) from Arica Culture, since the originals were absorbed by the Aymaras. But the Aymaras and the expressions of their peculiar cosmovision; the many ariqueños with African genes; our intense familiar, social, commercial and professional relationship with Peruvians and Bolivians of all ethnic groups; our Peruvian and almost Bolivian past and our geographical position, continue to make of Arica “the place where integration reaches high levels of efficiency”. I understand that it is difficult to understand all the details that I have described, but I tried to explain that, contrary to the principle of racial hegemony that impregnates the conventional Chilean ethos and despite the implicit effort of the past military government to eliminate our autochthonous idiosyncracy for the benefit of the doctrine of national security, and beyond the urban mediocrity of today, Arica is and will always be a multiethnic enclave that Chile can not or does not wish to accept. That is why we have difficult relations with the country to which we now belong, That is why I propose to educate our people and the rest of Chile so that they understand that the coexistence of ethnic groups imposes a task to everybody, that this enriches the Nation and that regional idiosyncrasies must be respected. Only thus we will beat Chile’s overwhelming centralism and Arica will be able to follow its Andean vocation, a concept that Santiago will never understand.
This is not about advocating the use of the Force to recover Arica’s dignity, although there is no place for timid positions. After all, our national motto places Reason before Force.
Merril L. Furst said: “The biggest difference between time and space is that you can’t reuse time”. What a pity...