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TASTIL RUINS

SALTA

ARGENTINA

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SALTA

TASTIL RUINS

On a hill rising about 60 metres above the bottom of the Valle de Lerma valley, a citadel with pre-Incan characteristics that was populated between the years 1360 and 1440 A.C., can be noticed. It is a grouping of residential complexes covering an area of around 12 hectares.

The vestiges where discovered by Eric Boman in the year 1903, and studied and rebuilt in 1967 by a team from the Universidad Nacional de La Plata University, led by Mario Cigliano.

It is located 2.5 kilometres away from the town of Santa Rosa de Tastil, at 3200 metres above sea level.

Due to its urban layout, it is one of the most complete archaeological sites in Argentine's northeastern territory. The quadrangular and rectangular structures do not repeat themselves in a strict geometrical sense, owing perhaps to the topography of the place.

It is hard to imagine that this silent hamlet, where currently the fingers of a hand exceed the number of its inhabitants, housed long past almost 2000 souls. Its ancient settlers built sinuous streets that constitute a maze converging in a sort of plaza in the centre.

The ruins that can be seen nowadays are stone constructions. The roofs were made of leather and weaved out of llama and sheep wool. It hardly rains in the area.

The great amount of material found on the surface caught the attention of investigators. In spite of the many years that have elapsed, remains of pottery, arrow tips and obsidian (the raw material to make them) can still be found.

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SALTA - ARGENTINA
Salta Argentina
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* Northeast Circuit
* West Andean
Circuit

- Campo Quijano
- Bishop's Slope
- Tastil Ruins
- San Antonio de
los Cobres

- Train to the Clouds
* Southeast Circuit
* Valleys Circuit
Investigations have established that Tastil's settlers where excellent weavers, bred llamas and guanacos and made stone and rustic pottery objects. They traded with the Andean towns and farmed at the foot of the mountains.

Towards the east, on the mountains surrounding the ruins, are areas filled with rock paintings. There are several fields containing considerably big stones covered with geometrical, zoomorphic and anthropological figures imprinted on them.

However, the most important rock painting found in the area is the "Tastil's Ballerina" (in exhibition at the Museo de Antropología de Salta Museum, behind the Güemes monument), and another one of no less value called "The Calendar", a circular drawing with symbols yet to be deciphered.

Other rock painting motifs are the felines, ophidians and rheas, along with geometrical zigzag figures. Human forms and masks were represented on the rock as well.

Its economic importance was given by the fact that it was the centre for exchanging products brought in from the Puna highlands and vice versa.

HOW TO GET THERE
Coming from the city of Salta, it is a 101 kilometre long journey up to the town of Santa Rosa de Tastil, standing at 3080 metres above sea level. From the Limache roundabout, and following the Ruta Nacional Nº 51 National Route, travellers go into the Quebrada del Toro Gorge, and then across Campo Quijano, bound to Chile. Before arriving at this locality, starts the slope leading to the Abra del Muñano Mountain pass, a doorway to the Puna highlands proper.

WEATHER
Dry, arid, cold and windy.

FESTIVITIES
The Patron Fiesta of the town is celebrated every 31st of August and is meant to honour Santa Rosa de Lima. A peculiar thing about these celebrations is the pronounced syncretism: the fusion of the Catholic religious rites with the heathen ones. God the Creator stands side by side with the Pachamama, the Mother of the Earth and all creatures living on it. Here the Suri dance can be appreciated followed by the cutting up, then comes the Holy Cross, further behind the altar boys and finally The Patron.

The suris are pledge-makers disguised as rheas. They put feathers on their heads, torsos, arms and legs and dance rather anarchically. When bombs are dropped, the thunder makes them flounce towards the ground "because they are scared". From then on, two of them will try and cut up the hindquarters of a sheep or goat with a few energetic and well-aimed movements. At the end, he who gets the biggest share of the animal will enjoy more abundance and prosperity during that year.

SANTA ROSA DE TASTIL MUSEUM
Along the Ruta Nacional Nº 51, bound to Chile, and 100 metres away from the place, stands the Site Museum of Santa Rosa de Tastil, which tells the story of the Andean culture that flourished in the area.

The museum's only room exhibits investigation works, excavations, classification and restoration. The pottery, textiles and metal artefacts found here were used for funeral and religious purposes, except for the arrow tips and milling objects made of stone.

A sample of the zone's textiles can be appreciated at the museum as well. The textile industry outstands as one of the most important of this farming and stockbreeding town, which used to be the axis for trade between the highland regions and the adjacent valleys.

It opens Mondays through Fridays (save Thursdays) from 10:00 AM to 06:00 PM, and Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 AM to 02:00 PM. Visitors are guided by Luis Santillán, the man in charge of the museum, or by his wife, Elsa Verón.

ACTIVITIES
If travellers love rock scaling, they can practice free scaling at Santa Rosa de Tastil, thanks to the granite mountains emerging in the area. It is a rarity on Salta's nature, and a place close to the highlands with many volcanic mountains in the surrounding areas.

 


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