Lican Antay Culture of the Atacama, Chile

The Lickan Antay (Atacamenian) culture with its 12,000 years of history has persisted in the oases, valleys and gorges of the foothills of the Andes mountain chain. Surviving in one of the most inhospitable areas of the world they have managed to guard a fantastic treasure, their ancestral culture.

The region of the Lickan-Antay Culture, which was later called “Atacama” by the Spanish Conquerors, was populated by hunter-gatherer about 12.000 years ago, in the area from the salt lake of Atacama up to the altitudes of the Andes. 

The first settlers continued to develop themselves and formed the San Pedro Culture, which flourished between 500 B.C. until 300 A.D. around the oasis of Toconao. The most important part of the development of the Lickan Antay culture took part between 300 and 900 A.D., when numerous small communities where formed around the oasis.

Previous to the Inca domination in the 15th century the Lickan-Antay Culture was strongly influenced by the Tiwanaku Culture. The arrival of the Spanish Conquerors preluded the downfall of the Lickan-Antay Culture and their language, the Kunza.

Since some years the ancestral rights and the traditional customs of these people are revived by their successors in order to maintain their culture.

Today, Toconao is well known because of its stone buildings of volcanic material and its craftsmanship. Its 600 inhabitants do not only live from handicraft, but also from fruit –growing, mining and tourism. The revival of the traditions one can experience mainly in Toconao and in the Ayllu communities around San Pedro de Atacama, called Coyo, Socaire, Sequitor, Solor and Vilama.


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