Aridoamérica is the name with which an area is known in which there was an important human activity in the pre-Columbian era, whose limits currently correspond to the southwest of the United States and northern Mexico.
In other words, Aridoamerica would be located north of the so-called Mesoamerica or “Mesoamerican area” of the same period.
The term was coined towards the 1950s by Paul Kirchhoff, an ethnologist and anthropologist born in Germany and Mexican nationalized. Kirchoff also coined the concept of Mesoamerica, which he defined as a socio-cultural super-area of present-day Central America in which some of the great cultures of the pre-Hispanic period settled.
The main characteristics of Aridoamerica are presented below.
Climate, habitat and relief
The region of Aridoamérica receives this name for being an arid zone, with little rainfall and water currents. The territory was characterized by having large areas of non-cultivable plain. All this made it impossible for the settlement of human groups and, with it, the development of a remarkable infrastructure.
The region was inhabited by nomadic populations of hunters and gatherers, who fed on the flora and fauna available in this habitat. It is known that these societies had some contact with the cultures of the Mesoamerican region, which is why some communities in Aridoamerica came to develop certain forms of minor agriculture for brief periods.
The human groups that inhabited Aridoamerica correspond to the period from 500 BC to approximately 1500 AD. The social organization corresponded to the shape of the tribe. In the tribes there was great mobility of their actors, both in daily and religious work.
There were many cultures that inhabited Aridoamerica. The best known group corresponds to the so-called “chichimecas“, a name that includes guachichiles, guamares, pames and chichimecas-jonaces, tecuexes, zacatecos and cocas.
The most cultivated artistic forms were those performing or temporary, such as dance, music and poetry, which were closely linked to each other.