The archaeological research carried out in the territory of the Argentine republic has given a very abundant material, useful above all to establish the degree of culture of the indigenous peoples encountered by the Europeans at the time of the discovery and the first colonization, and largely disappeared or absorbed during development of the latter. On the other hand, the value of some discoveries of human remains and prehistoric industries to which it was believed to be able to attribute a much greater antiquity is still doubtful. When the stratigraphic and chronological problems related to these discoveries are resolved, Argentine prehistory will make a notable contribution to the reconstruction of the population and the most ancient indigenous cultures of South America.
By far the largest part of the findings, both superficial and from funeral mounds and residues of houses (paraderos), essentially refer to the indigenous civilizations encountered in the places by the white settlers, even if they date back to times considerably prior to those of the discovery. But it is from them alone, Fr. eg, that we can now be aware of some of the forms or some particular products of indigenous cultures that European colonization has made disappear even where the original tribes have left to exist. This is the case of the interesting lithic industry, typical of most of the tribes of the Argentine territory and which for the general stage of its technique can be assimilated to the Neolithic of European prehistory. Only in the provinces of the North did a group of sedentary populations possessed a civilization of a higher type, and similar in many respects to that of ancient Peru, which also included the working of copper and bronze, fairly advanced agriculture, textile and figulina art of considerable development and the construction of residences and fortresses with overlapping stones without lime or with sun-baked bricks. In the province of Catamarca, which also includes the famous fortified camp of Pucará, 23 km long. and 9 wide, the soil has such abundant vestiges of that ancient civilization, as to suggest a very dense population. Here, in the century. XVI, the Spaniards found warrior populations, such as the Diaguiti (pron. Diaghiti), also called by the contemporary chroniclers Calchaqui, from the name of one of their mountain valleys, which could only be tamed, or rather exterminated, in 1664. Other populations, such as the Sanaviron of the province of Córdoba, however, did not put up any resistance, but they were equally absorbed or eliminated with great rapidity. The Inca civilization of these regions was in decline at the time of the Spanish conquest, and the first explorers already describe the country as full of ruins. The last descendants of the Diaguiti, Europeanized and speaking Quechúa, still seen in the second half of the last century by Mantegazza and Ambrosetti in the province of Salta, are today represented only by a few mestizos (v.diaguiti).
Between the mountainous region of the NO. and the course of the Paraná, the wooded plains of the Chaco, on the other hand, still house the indigenous populations that are more numerous and less altered in culture, despite the introduction of the horse and the partial adoption of some other domestic animal, of European fabrics, of firearms. From the linguistic point of view, the indigenous tribes were divided into various isolated groups: the Mataco with the Chorote, the Lule and Vilela, and above all the Guaycurú or Mbaya who perhaps had representatives up to the banks of the Río della Plata. The advantageous stature, the robust shapes, the war aptitudes, the nomadic life of hunters and fishermen bring these tribes together with the people of the southernmost plains, and the same provenance shows to have some particular cultural object, such as the notable diffusion of the leather tent., as a dwelling, and some leather cloaks. Currently the most important tribes of the Argentine Chaco are the Toba (Guaycurú) and the Mataco, between the rivers of Río Pilcomayo and Río Bermejo: some groups of Chana, Guarani or Guaranized tribes of higher cultural level also live near the Bolivian border (v.chaco). On the other hand, the southernmost Guaycurú tribes, the Mocovi and the Abipon, who learned the use of horses from the whites, dominated the region south of Bermejo up to Córdoba and Santa Fe with their raids. These ferocious tribes of “skinners” were destroyed at the end of the century. XVIII. It is believed that the Querandi belonged to the same linguistic group, who occupied the region between the Río Carcarañá, the R. Salado and the Plata: hunters and fishermen, erecting vast encampments of tents (toldos) near the waterways, they they strongly hindered the settlement of the settlers in the primitive Buenos Aires, which was also set on fire by them in 1535 with arrows bearing bundles of inflamed grass.
According to simplyyellowpages, the same fate befell the indigenous groups established between Paraná and Uruguay. The Chana or Chaneses, hunters and fishermen of the delta lagoons, are so extinct that now there is a tendency to connect linguistically, but on few elements, to the distant Arawaks, and other tribes of which only the name remains. But further north there were Guarani tribes, practicing, as everywhere, agriculture and in possession of a very interesting civilization (see Guarani). There are some remains (Caingua) in the territory of the Misiones.
The large steppe areas that extend west of the Río della Plata to the foot of the Andes have had a very eventful ethnic history in the period following their discovery. The Pampas were inhabited by the Puelche or Pampeani, divided into various groups (Talu-het, Divi-het, Cheche-het), who, having learned the use of the horse, became the most warlike and tenacious enemies of colonization. Their raids and robberies were put to an end only in 1881, when the extermination campaign of gen. Roca managed to repel the remains south of the Río Negro. They were of very tall stature and very similar in costumes to those of the Patagons. In 1910 there were still about fifty individuals in the Valcheta colony near the Río Negro. But some of their blood certainly passed into the gauchos, the shepherds who replaced them in the domain of the vast grassy plains.
The gradual destruction of the Querandi and the Puelche was also exploited by the tribes of Araucani, who, originally established on the eastern side of the Andes (governorate of Neuquén and SW part of the province of Mendoza) , gradually invaded the plain, although opposed by the Spaniards, up to occupy, in the middle of the century. XVIII, part of the province of Buenos Aires. The Araucans brought a higher culture, but due to the needs imposed by the environment they had ended up adopting a way of life not very dissimilar to that of the steppe hunters. Agriculture was very limited and hunting, with horses and bola, provided the main means of subsistence. Absorbed or disseminated in the white population, little is left of them too.
The inhospitality of the southern regions better protected the Patagonian or Tehuelche tribes. Indeed, in Tierra del Fuego, a tribe lived until recently, almost annihilated by breeders and gold diggers, the Ona, who did not know the use of the horse and therefore presented intact the culture common to all the Patagons at the time. of discovery. This tribe of tall, robust and talented hunters, transformed in a very short time into skilled knights, had peaceful relations with the whites: they are about 2000 individuals (see Patagoni). South of the chain that goes from M. Darwin to the Lemaire strait lived the Yahgan fishermen, in possession of one of the poorest and most primitive cultures in America: the few survivors live in the European style in the Protestant mission of Ushuaia (see fuegini).