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Archaeological Field Project:
Northern Atacama Region, Chile

This project is a joint effort between Archaeology Australia and the Universidad de Tarapaca, Arica.  Following on from survey work conducted in 1999, attention has now turned to a site on the Lluta River about 16 km north of the city of Arica.  The site contains remains of a habitation site dating from at least 1,000 years ago although much older sites are known in the area.  In 2004 we excavated a tomb and located the remains of a mummy along with numerous artifacts.

Cultural material indicates that this site dates from the Arica culture which dates to around the 10-11th century AD.  Dried corncobs were located in the site and these are being radiocarbon dated to place the site within a more precise time-frame.  The Arica culture were an agricultural community growing corn on irrigated land adjacent to the river but also exploiting the rich marine resources located off the beach and from the rocky coasts to the south.

During the survey of 2004 several circular stone foundations were located and the presence of more tombs was indicated by features on the surface.  The project aimed to ascertain the extent and nature of this site.  We wanted to ascertain its size and possible population and how it managed its resources.  During the 2006 field season we continued to survey the area in order to ascertain its boundaries and site function  We also intended to excavate one or two of the circular structures and attempt to locate more tombs.

This was a rare opportunity to join in an archaeological excavation and participate in survey and excavation to accurately record all the features and artefacts that this site has to offer.

"Our business is in ruins..."