Northwestern Argentina and its area of influence

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Around 1000 BC the first villages of herders and farmers arose in northwestern Argentina to become a common way of life throughout the territory. These cultures produced extraordinary works of art in stone, ceramic and metal, evidence of a prosperous economy that could support a highly sophisticated artisan sector. Agriculture and herding produced social wealth, but long distance bartering led to its growth and diversification.

The formative cultures in this part of Argentina traded often with people in the Chilean desert, from the Loa to Copiapó Rivers. Llama caravans transported fine woods, hallucinogen plant seeds, freshwater shells, tropical bird feathers, crocodile skins, medicinal plants and variety of manufactured goods, such as wooden cups, textiles, bronze, objects, decorated vessels and basketry. In exchange for these exotic products, the Atacama peoples provided marine products, salt, guano, carob pods, chañar fruit, semiprecious stones and other minerals.

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