Archeologists love the Atacama because due to its almost non-existent rainfall (and I mean almost, we were witness to the few days of rain a year). The dry air has helped to preserve a wealth of artifacts for thousands of years. This delightful museum has a large collection of shamanic items used for preparing and consuming hallucinogenic substances.
The detailed displays portray the region’s evolution from the early cultures to the invasions by the Incas and the Spanish. The museum gives greater depth to the archeological sites nearby, especially the Aldea de Tulor and Pukara de Quitor.
A priest and amateur archeologist, Father Gustavo le Paige arrived in San Pedro de Atacama in 1955 and spent the next thirty-five years exploring and collecting ancient finds from the region. The museum and the street running along the plaza to the museum are named after him to honour his contribution to understanding the history of the ancient cultures and the historical events that influenced this small oasis in the middle of the Atacama Desert. We learned that there is some animosity towards him because he is thought to have sent a large amount of gold that he found back to Rome. He wouldn’t have been the first priest to do so, that’s for sure.