brown deer on green grass field during daytime
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As someone passionate about historical museums and fascinated by ancient civilizations, I was incredibly excited to explore the MAAM – Museo de Arqueologia de Alta Montana de Salta. Nestled in the heart of Argentina, this gem of a museum is more than just a pit-stop for tourists. It’s a veritable treasure chest that unlocks the secrets of the Incan culture and gives an insight into the lesser-known field of high-altitude archeology.



MAAM or Museo de Arqueologia de Alta Montana de Salta isn’t your typical museum. Its focus is on a highly specialized niche – high-altitude archaeology, and it presents a unique blend of science, history, and culture that leaves you feeling like you’ve traveled back in time. With a vast array of Incan artifacts, this museum provides an unparalleled peek into ancient Andean civilizations, making it a must-visit for anyone coming to Salta.

Historical Context

The Inca Empire, once the largest empire in pre-Columbian America, left an indelible mark on South American archaeology. Their advanced civilization, impressive architectural feats, and unique cultural traditions make them a subject of enduring fascination. The Llullaillaco volcano, situated at a daunting altitude, was considered sacred by the Incas. It was a site of significant rituals, including capacocha, a sacrificial rite involving children.

The Discovery of the Llullaillaco Children

The discovery of the Llullaillaco Children in 1999 was a ground-breaking event in the field of high-altitude archaeology. Found on the summit of the Llullaillaco volcano, these three children, a boy and two girls, were incredibly well-preserved Incan mummies. The cold, dry climate and the burial conditions on the high-altitude volcano led to natural mummification, preserving the children’s bodies, clothing, and burial artifacts in an extraordinary state.

The findings from this discovery have provided scientists and historians with invaluable information about Incan culture, sacrificial rituals, and their way of life. In a sense, these mummies have been silent witnesses to history, holding secrets of a past civilization that we’re still striving to fully understand.

Exploring the Museum’s Collections

At MAAM, each artifact tells a story. The museum houses a diverse collection of artifacts that include everything from Incan mummies to textiles, pottery, and metalworks. Each artifact offers insight into various aspects of Incan society, from their religious beliefs to their daily life. The textiles, with their intricate designs, hint at the sophistication of Incan weaving techniques. The pottery and metalworks reveal information about their craftsmanship and trade.

However, the heart of the museum is undoubtedly the permanent exhibition dedicated to the Llullaillaco Children. Seeing them up close, you can’t help but marvel at their preservation, feeling a deep sense of respect and awe for the civilization that honored and remembered their young in such a profound way.

Exhibition and Preservation Efforts

MAAM’s dedication to preserving and displaying these artifacts is commendable. The museum has been meticulous in ensuring that the mummies and other Incan artifacts are preserved under optimal conditions. Their efforts don’t just stop at preservation. The museum also excels at making these artifacts accessible to the public in a respectful and informative manner. With rotating collections and special exhibits, there’s always something new to discover, making every visit to the MAAM a unique experience.

Educational Outreach and Community Involvement

Beyond its role as a museum, MAAM is also deeply committed to educational outreach and community involvement. They regularly organize workshops and school programs to educate younger generations about Incan history and the importance of archaeology. Moreover, special events are often hosted to engage the local community and visitors alike, making the museum a vibrant hub for cultural exchange.

Visitor Information

Visiting the MAAM can be an enriching and enlightening experience. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, and the ticket prices are quite reasonable, allowing a broader audience to engage with this significant part of Incan history.

But remember, the best way to truly appreciate the museum is to take your time. Spend a moment with each artifact, read the descriptions, and immerse yourself in the atmosphere. If possible, join a guided tour. The guides at MAAM are knowledgeable and passionate about the collections, and their insights add an extra layer of depth to the visit. If you’re planning to visit Salta, make sure MAAM is at the top of your itinerary.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the MAAM?

MAAM stands for Museo de Arqueologia de Alta Montana de Salta. It’s a museum in Salta, Argentina, specializing in high-altitude archaeology, with a specific focus on Incan culture and history.

Who are the Llullaillaco Children?

The Llullaillaco Children are three Incan mummies found on the summit of the Llullaillaco volcano in 1999. They are believed to be the victims of the capacocha, a sacrificial ritual, and are considered among the best-preserved mummies ever found.

What can I see at the MAAM?

The MAAM has an extensive collection of Incan artifacts, including mummies, textiles, pottery, and metalwork. The museum’s centerpiece is the permanent exhibition dedicated to the Llullaillaco Children.

When is the best time to visit the MAAM?

The MAAM is open from Tuesday through Sunday. However, to get the most out of your visit, consider joining a guided tour, where you’ll learn more about the artifacts and the history behind them.

Why should I visit the MAAM?

Visiting the MAAM offers a unique opportunity to learn about Incan culture, rituals, and daily life. It’s a must-visit destination for anyone interested in history, archaeology, or ancient civilizations.

Is the MAAM suitable for children?

Absolutely. The MAAM is not just an informative but also an educational experience for children. The museum conducts various workshops and school programs to educate the younger generation about Incan culture and the importance of archeology.

How are the artifacts at MAAM preserved?

MAAM takes great care in preserving the artifacts. The conditions of the exhibition spaces are carefully controlled to mimic the cold, dry conditions of the high-altitude archaeological sites where the artifacts were found, preventing degradation and maintaining their remarkable state of preservation.

What else is there to do in Salta?

Besides visiting MAAM, Salta offers a variety of cultural attractions, including beautiful colonial architecture, other fascinating museums, a vibrant local market, and delicious regional cuisine to try. The stunning natural surroundings also offer opportunities for hiking and exploration.

What does high altitude archaeology mean?

High-altitude archaeology is a specialized field that focuses on archaeological discoveries and cultural practices at high altitudes, like those of the Andes Mountains. It provides unique insights into how ancient civilizations, such as the Incas, adapted to and revered these challenging environments.


My visit to the MAAM was more than just a day at a museum; it was a journey into the past, an adventure into a different time and civilization. MAAM isn’t just about preserving and showcasing Incan artifacts; it’s about promoting understanding, fostering respect, and keeping a vibrant, fascinating culture alive in our collective memory.

So, if you ever find yourself in Salta, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the MAAM. Experience the profound silence of the Llullaillaco Children, the artistry of ancient craftsmen, and the captivating narrative of a civilization etched in pottery, textiles, and metalwork. In doing so, you support the museum’s mission to educate, preserve, and share the Incan civilization’s incredible heritage.

Visiting MAAM – Museo de Arqueologia de Alta Montana de Salta is like opening a fascinating book and stepping into the vibrant world of the Incas. I hope my review encourages you to make this journey into the past and gain a deeper appreciation for the rich tapestry of human history. I guarantee it’ll be an experience you won’t forget.