Farming in the Atacama Desert, the driest nonpolar desert in the world, is not easy, evident in the grisly remains of the first farmers dated roughly 3,000 years ago.

Scientists recently established that farming in the Atacama Desert to be a deadly task to many, with all the dangers lurking in the driest nonpolar desert based on the remains recently found.

Smithsonian Magazine reported that analysis of these human remains from graves dated 3,000-1,400 years ago included human hair, flesh, and intact organs. It showed that these humans were victims of violent attacks that snapped their ribs, broke their collarbones, mutilated their faces, and repeatedly punctured their lungs, groin, and spine.

 Grisly Remains of First Farmers in the Atacama Desert Reveal the Brutal Challenges of Living Off the Driest Place on Earth
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Typical landscape of the Atacama Desert, the most arid place in the world, precisely 50 kilometers (31 mi) northeast of Calama, Chile

Driest Nonpolar Desert in the World

The Atacama Desert in Chile is the driest nonpolar desert in the world, according to Live Science. It is a 600-mile (1,000-kilometer) region situated between the Cordillera de la Costa mountain range and the Andes Mountains, boasting beautiful geologic formations.

Moreover, the Atacama Desert is also considered the oldest desert on Earth, having 150 million years of experience in semiarid conditions.

A 2018 study showed that the inner core of the desert must have become hyperarid for roughly 15 million years due to the unique geologic and atmospheric conditions of the area.

The outskirts of the Atacama Desert are where most organisms can be found. They were able to adapt and thrive despite the harsh conditions of the desert, which is largely devoid of plant and animal life except for some strains of microbial life.

Scientists are drawn to study the desert because of the lack of biology in the area, making it interesting to know how tenacious life on Earth could be and up to what climatic limits can living organisms survive.

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Humans Could Also Be Formidable Hazards in the Atacama Desert

According to Science Alert, humans also serve as formidable hazards in the Atacama Desert beyond the challenges of growing crops in an extremely arid place.

Researchers found the remains of the first farmers in the desert that likely lived 3,000 years ago and discovered that these humans were once victims of violence. Social tensions in a time of cultural and societal transformation had resulted in dramatic confrontations and violence that left marks on the skeletons that the team found.

In the study titled "Violence Among the First Horticulturists in the Atacama Desert (1000 BCE- 600 CE)," published in the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, researchers wrote that farming at that time was limited to valley terrace, oases, and some pockets of lands.

Study first author and anthropologist Vivien Standen wrote in their paper that moving away from these fertile lands would also mean having to face barren landscapes without water and resources. This lack of fertile land, along with socio-cultural issues at that time, could have triggered social tensions, conflict, and violence among groups that farm.

Skeletons were well-preserved due to the extreme dryness in the desert, with some of them even having hair and soft tissues that are dated approximately 800-600 BCE. Nonetheless, violence was evident in the skeletons, with many deadly blows deliberately and intentionally perpetrated either from frontal confrontation or attack from behind.

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