Horizon and Cactus

The Quilmes Ruins: A Civilisation of Fighters Lost

Horizon and Cactus

Dry northern lands

In north Argentina’s Tucumán province, there is a memory to the fighting spirit of humanity: Las Ruinas de Quilmes (The Quilmes Ruins), a steeply sloping hillside sporting the terraced ruins of an ancient city abruptly and tragically abandoned.

These mountains and unforgivingly dry landscapes were once home to the Quilmes people, a civilisation famous for their strength and constant clashings with equally fierce invaders.  Refusing to fall to the might of the Incans when they tried to take them down during the expansions of the 15th Century, the Quilmes later embarked on 130 years of confrontation with the newly arrived Spaniards (as well as their tights and flashy swords).

Terraces Quilmes Ruins

The land here is as arid as it is beautiful; the kind of place which requires a certain adaptability if one is to call it home.  The terrain must have shocked European invaders (and later settlers) with its hostile, rainbow-coloured hillsides which dropped suddenly into parched, flat expanses as far as the horizon.

Dry Landscape Tucuman

Yet as out of place as they must have felt in such an uncomfortable land, luck (as it so often did) eventually turned to the side of those Iberian men.  The 130 year clash with the Quilmes was nearing its end.

Quilmes Ruins

The end of a civilisation

As in the general style of civilisations which have been conquered, the city was demolished and the vast majority of the populous killed.  Though (almost as if an afterthought, or an absurd order given from on high:  I’m imagining a lord wearing bulbous red tights being entertained by a minstrel while making the demand), the Spanish thought it right and proper to relocate the 2000 survivors to a location 20 kilometres south of what is now Buenos Aires.

A distance of 1500 kilometres.

By foot.

As is blatantly obvious when contemplating walking such a distance across the wretched landscape that is much of north Argentina, many of the Quilmes died of exhaustion en route.

Quilmes Ruins

A lot of Argentinians know the story of these people’s relocation half way across the South American continent.

However, the name “Quilmes” is now much more commonly associated with the very popular Argentine brand of beer.

Currently owned by a Brazilian liquor giant.

It’s a very different world now.


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