Quebrada de Humahuaca


  • Site Name: Quebrada de Humahuaca
  • Country Found in: Argentina in the province of Jujuy
  • Year Added: 2003
  • Criteria for Nomination: ii. To exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town planning or landscape design; iv. To be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history; v. To be an outstanding example of traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change
  • Total number of sites in Argentina: 4

Site Information:

  • Site Size: 172,116 ha
  • Time Period: 9000 BC –Present
  • Cultural Periods and Groups Associated with this Site:
  • Hunter Gatherers and Early Farming Communities (9000 BC  400 AD)
  • Structural Agricultural Societies (400 AD -900)
  • Pre-Hispanic Towns (900-1430/80)
  • Incan Civilizations (1430/80-1535)
  • Spanish Towns and Churches (1535/93- 1810)
  • Republican struggles for Independence (1810-20th century)

Archaeological Summary:

Quebrada de Humahuaca is a narrow valley carved out by the Rio Grande and surrounded by mountains. Quebrada de Humahuaca was named by the natives of the region, Humahuaca meaning “sacred river” and Quebrada referring to the rivers flowing and branching off in this region.  It is stretches the area between the High Andean lands to the Rio Leone.  It has been commonly used as a trade route by many different cultures for over 10,000 years.  The valley shows evidence of the many different cultures that had once inhibited the area through the artifacts and features found in this region.  Rock art, features of stone churches and houses, and agricultural land formations are only some of the evidence of the wide variety of cultures that lived in this region.

This site was added to UNESCO because of its importance in trade and farming of many different cultures.  Quebrada de Humahuaca has been shaped by the cultures of its inhabitants.  One of the more distinguished time periods of inhabitants of this region is known as the Sedentary Period.  This time period includes Pre-Hispanic and Incan civilizations.  During this time these groups shaped the land for use in agriculture.  Early in this period, cultures created settlements along the river banks for easy irrigation and used the valley as a “road” to trade with other settlements.  As time progressed and the cultures shifted, settlements began to be built upon the higher rocky outcrops of the valley in clusters known as purcaras.  These clusters were dispersed throughout the land in order to provide enough space for all the societies in the region to flourish agriculturally.  The Inca and Pre-Hispanic used the land to control trade of the region’s minerals and established road systems throughout the valley to connect neighboring countries.  Another distinguished time period is the Spanish Conquest.  As the Spanish moved in to control the trade and farming of the region, Incan populations living there began to die off from disease brought in by the Spanish.  During this time the Spanish established trading posts throughout the valley.  They also brought new ways of establishing settlements to the region.  During this period towns were built around the church; the church resided in the center and was surrounded by many squared off regions of land, in a grid-like pattern, where homes were built.  The natural resources of the Quebrada de Humahuacas and its location brought many different cultures to the region, shaping the region over time.

This site was used by many different cultures over many different time periods making it difficult to explain the history of its use and importance.  The land’s natural resources and location attracted different groups of people to this region over thousands of years, shaping Quebrada de Humahuaca into the valley it is today.

Threats/Status: There are no known threats to this site at this time.

Quebrada de Humahuaca:

Quebrada de Humahuaca – Pucara de Tilcara

For more information on this site try the following links:








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2 Responses to Quebrada de Humahuaca

  1. megan says:

    Can you change the section header ‘Resources’ to ‘References’? That will just make it more clear that those are the sites you got your information from.

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