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El área septentrional andina

A Reassessment of the Chronology of the Ecuadorian Formative

Jorge G. Marcos

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  • 1 On leave from Centro de Estudios Arqueológicos y Antropológicos CEAA, Escuela Superior Politécnica (...)
  • 2 O. Tobar and E. Navarrete,
  • 3 G. Spinolo, M. Martini, and E. Sibilia
  • 4 G. Bigazzi
  • 5 A. Michczynski
  • 6 A. Álvarez Pérez

1In this summary paper, I propose to address the Ecuadorian Formative Chronology from the perspective of various lines of interdisciplinary research, I have been involved, in the past five years, with several colleagues from: the Center1 for Archaeological and Anthropological Research and the Department of Geology at the Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral, ESPOL2, Guayaquil, Ecuador; the Thermoluminescence Laboratory of the Department of Physics, Università degli studi di Milano3; The Institute of Geochronology and Isotopic Chemistry4, National Research Council, Pisa, Italy; the Radiocarbon Laboratory of The Institute of Physics, at The Silesian Technical University5, Gliwice, Poland; and of The Department of Geology at the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona (UAB)6, where I have been in residence the past four years. The views I will present here, resulted from lively discussions with colleagues and students in seminar, classes, and over coffee, at the Department of Prehistory at the UAB, The Department of American Anthropology at The Complutense University of Madrid. I am indebted to Donald W. Lathrap for the knowledge he gave us all of Tropical Forest social processes, and his ideas on the subject. These ideas have matured, in the academic confrontation at several international meetings attended, and in writing the papers that have been prepared for publication during that period.

2In this paper, I am going to analyze the absolute and relative chronology during the Formative Period and, discus the historical process evident at Ecuadorian Early Formative sites, changes in settlement pattern, changes in forms of production, development of ceramic manufacture, the formulation of Andean rituals, and The evolution of exchange and trade relations.

Ecuadorian Formative research since the 1970's

3In the context of the Junius B. Bird Textile Conference at Dumbarton Oaks, I had the pleasure of presenting here the first results of our research at the Valdivia site of Real Alto (Marcos, 1979). The two textile impressions found in a lump of clay associated with Valdivia 6 ceramic fragments, provided us then with the first evidence for a Valdivia weaving tradition.

4The following year, in Real Alto, D. W. Lathrap, excavating with J. Damp, in trench “C” found the earliest evidence for Valdivia yarn spinning. They located several stone spindle whorls, at the very bottom of the excavation, associated with Phase la ceramic shards.

5Today, thanks to four years of laboratory and library research in Barcelona, I have been able not only to “re-excavate” new data from our continued field research at Real Alto and other coastal sites, but also to do so from earlier Valdivia investigations.

6Continuing with the Valdivia weaving example, we have found that one of the most important shell remains at Real Alto, representing approximately 5% of all shells found throughout the sequence, are intertidal species which render a foamy secretion that oxidizes into a purple dye. These small conches, Thais (Vasula) melones Duclos, 1832 (2.6%), Thais (Stramonita) chocolata Duclos, 1832 (1.3%) and Purpura pansa Gould, 1853 (1.1%) were used along the Panamic-Pacific Malacological Province, the same way that other species of Murices were used in the Mediterranean Sea.

7Apparently, Real Alto weavers began using murices to dye cotton purple as early as Valdivia Phase lb. The use of these shells is quite evident in the coastal Ecuadorian sequence. A few chroniclers from the sixteen, seventeen and eighteen centuries indicate that the Santa Elena Peninsula native population procured part their livelihood by dyeing threads purple by the use of murices shells, calling them “hilos de caracol” (Lenz-Volland and Volland, 1986, Marcos, 1995b).

8They recorded the use of other dyes: blue, by ʻorchillaʼ, a lichen of the Rosella species that still grows on the Chanduy hills, and red, by ʻcochinealʼ (Dactylopius coccus), an insect that lives on the cacti Nopalea cocci-nerifera that grows on the foggy hill sides of the Coastal Cordilleras.

  • 7 Thais crassa is a synonym for Thais (Vasula) melones (Duclos, 1832) (Keen, 1971:550).

9At the type-site (G-31) increasing numbers of Thais crassa7, another murice, appear at the end of Valdivia A, augmenting during Valdivia B, and being most popular during Valdivia C, where it reached a 2.6% level of popularity. Other colors, from deep-brown to tan, were obtained from several varieties of native cotton (Gossipiun barbadense) that still grow in the area.

10Our increasing knowledge of the Valdivia mode of life, shows that newer and more profound investigations are still required to reconstruct the Early Formative historical process fully. There are more than one hundred Valdivia sites known from Coastal Ecuador which need to be excavated. Not to mention the want of knowledge for a detailed study for other Ecuadorian Formative and later pre-Hispanic societies

Proper Excavation, the validation of 14C and TL determinations

  • 8 Marcos and Michczynski, 1996 (in press).
  • 9 Supported by the EC Delegation XII

11I have shown elsewhere8, that the quality of excavation reflects on the validity of the increasingly more precise physical methods of chronological determination. The earlier dates, which samples were obtained form metric levels served to date periods, but not events. Today, the appropriate selection of the sample is of great importance to validate closed contexts and micro-stratigraphic relationships. Ideally, we should date no less than five 14C samples per event, to select against on-site and laboratory contamination and error. However, the availability of organic material, and cost, are a constrain. This can be offset by the use of less expensive comparative methods, like TL chronological determinations. We have done so successfully at Real Alto and San Lorenzo del Mate. The project Ceramic dating by Thermoluminescence and Geological Determination of Archaeological Materials Source Areas9, provided an excellent validation of the Valdivia Chronology complementing and expanding the scope of the existing 14C determinations. (see table 1).examining 14C dates from Real Alto, which samples were collected from wall trenches, food preparation pits among other secure contexts and associations, it became apparent that no matter how careful the sample selection had been, there were a good number of aberrant determinations that needed an explanation. Some of these were validated by calibration, but others were simply wrong. However, excavations conducted since the mid eighties at Real Alto and San Lorenzo del Mate have shown some site formation peculiarities, and have permitted refined observations of the manner of building and rebuilding public edifices and households, which could explain some of the chronological aberrations

12All Valdivia buildings were placed on top of a prepared platform mound, which were reworked and reshaped when a major rebuilding of the structure took place. This became more obvious at San Lorenzo del Mate where the limonite-rich soils clearly showed the forming of house platforms throughout the stratigraphy. This is also evident in Real Alto deposits, clearly showing in Mound A (Marcos, 1988b).

13In most of the wall-trenches it was evident that wall posts were removed and replaced from time to time.

14Surface hearths similar to those found ethnographically among Amazonian groups are common in Valdivia house floors (see Zeidler, 1984:327, Map 49).

15Bell-shape storage pits generally contained manos and metates, or rests of them. These sacrificial rites filled to capacity some storage-pits with broken manos and metates (Marcos, 1978; 1988b: 144-145).

16Building activity, could explain some wood charcoal sample up-mix, especially in wall trenches. But well defined bell-shaped food-preparation pits should contain only charcoal from the cooking activity performed there, and aberrant dates could not be explained by up-mixture. On the other hand, re-use and replacement of wall-posts activity, could indicate that a good percentage of the wood burnt in hearths and oven-pits were old, discarded, building material. Long-lasting wood, like algarrobo and guasango, would date to several centuries before, when the tree was cut, and not when it ended as fuel. Finally, our recent excavations on the northeast sector of Real Alto, have shown that the so-called cairns found at the bottom of the excavation in that sector of the site, are actually the bottom of, Valdivia 2b, bell-shape storage-pits where manos and metates were stored, or sacrificed before filling the pit with rubble. Some of these sacrifices contained para-natal burials inside down-turned Valdivia 2 unused cooking pots. This is coherent with some of the dates associated with cairns, which date to Valdivia 2b and not to Valdivia la.

The Ecuadorian Formative Chronology

17Recent publication of a Radiocarbon database for Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru, offering calibrated dates for the Northern and Central Andes (Zió»kowski et. al., 1994), and the Thermoluminescence series now available for part of Coastal Ecuador and the northern Sierra (Martini, et. al. 1994), not only permits a critical refinement of the Ecuadorian cultural chronology, but allows for coherent comparisons between the Northern Andes and archaeological sites in the Central and South-Central Andes.

18This will also enable archaeologist, studying the area, to establish the way societies living in the Coast, the Northern and Southern Sierra related to each other, explaining formal coincidences by regional and long distance trade relationships during the Formative.





19The abstracted Formative Chronology chart presented above is the result of the analysis of all the information available for each regional area of Ecuador. In order to examine the present state of our knowledge of the Ecuadorian Formative regional chronological charts are presented and discussed below.




20Esmeraldas Archaeology has been under investigation since the beginning of the twentieth century (Saville, 1909, 1914; Uhle, 1927a, 1927b; Bergsoe, 1937, 1938, Ferdon, 1940, 1941a; D’Harcourt, 1942, Lubensky 1991). However modern, systematic archaeological research there, began with the Spanish Archaeological Mission to Esmeraldas in 1975 (Alcina Franch, 1979; Guinea, 1986).

21The Banco Central Archaeological Museum started a preliminary field research program at La Tolita site and environs a few years before, it was directed by Juan Cueva in the early nineteen seventies.

22A decade and a half later, Jean-Francois Bouchard carried on excavations at Tolita under an agreement between the Central Bank Museum of Ecuador and the C.N.R.S, France. This research planned to complete and compare information obtained from excavations in Tumaco, Colombia (Bouchard, 1987, 1992, 1995).

23Francisco Valdez (1987, 1986, 1989) continued investigations there in the middle eighties. Shortly after that Tolstoy (Tostoy and DeBoer, 1989) and DeBoer (1989, 1991, 1995) conducted an archaeological survey in the Santiago-Cayapas region, and an ongoing excavations associated with this project are being carried out by Kreid.

24All this research has barely began to shed light on the occupational darkness of pre-Columbian Esmeraldas (DeBoer, 1996). Tachina (López Sebastián y Caillavet, 1979), Early Tolita, and the Selva Alegre components and some associated radiocarbon dates suggest a Late Formative occupation. However, the Mafa component and occasional Valdivia 8 look-alike sherds may be associated, although not conclusively, with 14C dates sitting astride between the end of the second and the third millennium BC, suggesting that terminal Early Formative might be present in the region.

25Present and future research in the area, ought to eventually make sence of the social history of the Esmeraldas Formative and later periods. So far, like for most of Ecuador, Museum Collections acquired from “Hua-queros” and devoid of all possible archaeological contexts speak for a Pre Classic and a Classic pre-Columbian splendor.

26Recent research in the Quito Valley by the Belgian Archaeological Mission to Ecuador (Buys and Domínguez, 1988), and in the Cadena project in Quevedo (Reindel, 1995; Reindel and Guillaume-Gentil, 1995) have shown close connections between the Esmeraldas Late Formative occupation with those of the Northern Sierra and the Upper Guayas Basin.

Northern and Central Manabí

27Further down the Coast, in Manabi, early work by Estrada (1957, 1962) helped to build an initial cultural chronology for the area. However, the interest in the antiquities of Manabi is even older than that of Esmeraldas (Bollaert, 1870; Giglioli, 1891; Dorsey, 1901; Saville, 1907,1910; Verneau and Rivet 1912/1922, Uhle, 1923a, 1931; Jijón y Caamaño, 1930, 1941/46,1951).

28As such, most of the archaeological collections from that area are the product of illegal excavation and commercialization, and little is known of their context. Present interdisciplinary research in the Jama River Valley (Zeidler and Pearsall, 1994) is a welcome initiative in the region that should be followed in other areas of Northern and Central Manabi, if the reconstruction of the pre-Columbian historical process there is a target of national policy, as it should be.



Southern Manabi and The Guayas Coast

29In Southern Manabi and Guayas coast, the looting of archaeological sites was less severe than in the northern coast. Archaeology in the area began in the thirties with the excavations of Zevallos (1936, 1937, 1992) at the Cerro de Animas, near Juntas on the Colonche Hills. Disselhoff (1949), Ferdon (1941b) and Bushnell (1951) contributed to the Santa Elena Peninsula archaeological sequence, defining the latter the Late Formative for the Area, as Engoroy.

30Bushnell found terminal Early Formative ceramics at a Colonial period cemetery in La Libertad, and Huerta and Zevallos Menendez and Holm had located similar materials at the Pampa de Cangrejo, near San Pablo (Zevallos and Holm, 1960, 1962), but, it was Estrada (1956) who published the first solid evidence for an Early Formative component at the foothills behind the coastal towns of San Pedro and Valdivia.

31Estradaʼs research, in association with Clifford Evans and Betty J. Meggers, produced the first sequence of radiocarbon dates for the Ecuadorian Formative. At the time, Meggers, Evans and Estrada (1965) suggested that Valdivia pottery represented the transpacific landfall of Jomôn ceramics from the Japanese Neolithic, and its introduction into the New World. From the start several colleagues questioned this hypothesis (Collier, 1968; Muller, 1968; Lathrap, 1966), yet, a long lasting debate raged over the next few decades.

32In the nineteen sixties the Columbia University Survey of the Santa Elena Peninsula under Edward Lanning (1964), refined the Valdivia sequence (Hill, 1972/74), and initial research by Norton (1972) at Loma Alta, Bischof and Viteri (1972) at Valdivia, and Marcos at Real Alto (1978), began to unearth evidence of early Valdivia occupation of inland valleys, away from the coastline. Since then, the autoctonous origin of Valdivia culture has been amply and solidly demonstrated by archaeological survey and excavations at Loma Alta and the Valdivia River basin by the University of Calgary team (Raymond, 1988, 1989, 1993) and by the University of Illinois research at Real Alto during the middle seventies (Lathrap, Marcos and Zeidler, 1977; Damp, 1988; Marcos, 1978, 1988b; Pearsall, 1977/78, 1978; Zeidler, 1984). Research at Real Alto was continued by ESPOL’s Center for Archaeological and Anthropological Studies -CEAA - (1875-1991) (Marcos, 1993), and by an interdisciplinary team from the Geology Department at Universitéat Autönoma de Barcelona, Spain; Physics Department of the University of Milano, Italy; and ESPOL’s CEAA (1991-1995) (Álvarez, Marcos and Spinolo, 1995).



33Contributions to the knowledge of Machalilla and Chorrera in the Santa Elena Peninsula have been by Lippi (1983; Lippi, Bird and Stemper 1989) and by Bischof (1975a, 1975b).

Guayas Basin and Gulfian Environments

34Max Uhle (1930), unknowingly discovered the first Early Formative material at La Puna Island. But it was not until Porras (1973, 1980) excavated the El Encanto site that the Valdivia presence at Puna was truly evidenced. The Valdivia occupation of the saltflats and magrove environment to the north of the Gulf of Guayaquil has been amply demonstrated at Punta Arenas, where Valdivia D [7 and 8 in Hill (1972/74) refined sequence] was defined, (Meggers, Evans and Estrada, 1965) and at Anllulla (Lu-bensky, 1974, 1981) with an occupation form Valdivia 4 to 8 (For understanding Mangrove formation processes see Ferdon, 1981).

  • 10 Valdivia phase 8b is proposed as a result of the study of the archaeological ceramic squence at Sa (...)
  • 11 All dates are based on 14C calibrations In M. Ziólkowski, M. Pazdur, A. Krzanowski & A. Michezynsk (...)
  • 12 This research has been amply referrenced in the text above.

35South of the Gulf of Guayaquil, in El Oro province, Julio Viteri located in the sixties a Valdivia10 site outside the Jum6n village, near Santa Rosa. The Arenillas Valley Survey (Netherly, Holm, Marcos and Marca, 1980) came up with a few Formative sites, of which11 belonged to the Early Formative. The largest were Jumón (OOSrSr-34), Laguna de Cañas (OOSrSr-16) and La Emerenciana (OOSrSr-42). Unlike the Jum6n and Laguna de Cañas sites which are oriented to the riverine flood-plain of the lower Arenillas and Buena Vista rivers, La Emerenciana is a shell midden. This site is located on the edge of the saltflats back of the mangrove festooned estuary channels. In this area several mangrove oriented sites have been destroyed by shrimp farming activity. John E. Staller (1994) chose the latter, because its unique preservation, for his dissertation research. The Valdivia sequence of La Emerenciana ranges from Valdivia 4 to 8, in the upper context Staller found slender spouted bottles, similar to the ones found at San Lorenzo del Mate (Marcos and Alvarez, 1989) and by Juana Gonzalez near Milagro (n.d.). It would be important to excavate in the future the riverine oriented sites, since the only true shell-middens reported for Ecuador have been found in ancient mangrove environments.12

36These few Valdivia shell middens, from the gulfian environment, contrast with the grayish ashy-clayish-silty deposits of the type-site, Loma Alta, Real Alto, and all other middens located along coastal and inland Ecuador, where the scarcity of shell is quite evident.

37Up-stream, on the Guayas River, across and barely north of the modern city of Guayaquil, a deep deposit site is Peñón del Rio. Associated with a ridged field System with an apparent starting date of 2400-2250 BC (Parsons and Shlemon, 1987) lasted until Spanish occupation of the area (Zedeño, 1991; Dominguez, 1986; Marcos, 1987, 1988a, 1905a; Muse and Quintero, 1987; Buys and Muse, 1987, Martinez, 1987; Pearsall, 1987; Biena Nobili, 1988). Further north, at Hacieda Chorrera, on the Babahoyo River, the excavations conducted by Estrada (1958) and Evans and Meggers (1957, 1982) discovered a Late Formative component colsely resembling the Engoroy pottery described by Bushnell (1951).



38Chorrera and Peñón del Río, so far, provide the only information available on the Formative occupation of the Lower Guayas Basin. The excavations conducted at Hacienda Perinao (Raymond, Marcos and Lathrap, 1980) and at La Cadena, Quevedo, under the Auspices of the Lichtenstein Foundation (Guillaume-Gentil, 1994; Reindel, 1995 and Reindel and Gui-llaume-Gentil, 1995) give a glimpse of what appears to be a continuos Formative occupation in the Upper Guayas Basin (Porras, 1983), which may have begun since the earlier Valdivia phases. The Valdivia 2a occupation at Hacienda Perinao, overburdened by 8.50 meters of stratified alluvium and human occupation deposits is a site worth excavating in detail.

39The Tolas at La Cadena were apparently built over a Valdivia 6-8 occupation, overlain by Machalilla and Chorrera materials, probably the result of early mound construction activity. An activity that continued throughout Regional Developmental and Integration Periods.

The Northern Sierra

40Cotocollao (Porras, 1982, Villalba, 1988), in the Quito Valley, is the oldest known Formative site for the Northern Sierra, and shows stylistic similarities, both with Machalilla and Engoroy-Chorrera pottery. The calibrated dates for Early Cotocollao (1800-800 BC) suggest that earliest segment of this phase was contemporary with Valdivia 8 and the latter with Engoroy and Early Chorrera.

41La Chimba (Athens, 1980, 1990) in Imbabura Province, might represent the northernmost Formative presence in the northern Sierra. Heavy volcanic activity in the area might have precluded human occupation on a good number of places of northern Ecuador (See Zeidler and Isaacson, this volume).



42Carchi and Imbabura have been one area of intense archaeological interest (González Suarez, 1910; Jijón y Caamaño, 1914, 1920, 1951; Uhle, 1923b, 1933; Francisco, 1969, 1970; Echeverría, 1981, Echeverría y Berenguer, 1981; Echeverría y Uribe, 1983, etc.) However, surface structures, like bohíos and tolas might have biased investigation there, against, less obvious, stratified deposits.

43Like most areas of Ecuador, the northern highland provinces of are in want of a systematic archaeological survey to define all possible settlement patterns. On the other hand, a deeply stratified site was excavated by Jijón y Caamaño (1927, 1941/46) in Guano, Chimborazo. With that information in hand, he build his initial master sequence for Ecuador.

The Central Sierra

44In the Central Sierra, Puruhá became the focus of attention for most archaeologists (Proaño, 1918a,b,c,d, 1923; Jijón y Caamaño op.cit., 1927, 1951; Haro 1953, 1954). Research by Buitrón (1942) and Collier and Murra (1943) in the early forties, resulted in the identification of Formative material at Alausí, a Proaño site later excavated by Porras (1977). Calibrated dates from Alausí bracket a Formative occupation between 1800 and 800 BC, roughly contemporary with Valdivia 8, Machalilla and the earliest Chorrera.



45In Cotopaxi, Panzaleo and in Tungurahua Pillaro, represent according to Porras (1975a), Terán (1995) and Bray (1990) the inception of northern Oriente Late Formative Cosanga phase in the Central and Northern Sierra.

The Southern Sierra

  • 13 Zeidler, 1992; Jadán, 1986; Marcos and Álvarez, 1989; Staller, 1994.

46Tellenbach (1993), in a lucid presentation, elaborated on stylisitc comparisons between the Chaullabamba material from Azuay and the Chorrera-Engoroy ceramics of Coastal Ecuador, showing that Uhle’s Chaullabamba preceded the published Chorrera Material. Calibrated 14C dates from several excavations in Canar, Azuay and Loja provinces by the Bristish Museum archaeologists, and by Karen Bruhns (Bruhns, Burton and Miller, 1990, and Matilde Temme, 1982, n.d.), seem to prove Tellen-bach’s assumption correct (see table 2). Tellenbach suggestions, are based on his analysis of excavated materials from Cañar and Azuay: by Uhle in Chaullabamba y Chiguilanchi (Loja), Collier and Murra (1943) in Cerro Narrio, Bennett (1946) in Suizapala and Cucupampa, Gomis (1992; Go-mis, Idrovo and Peña, 1989) in Apangora Chaullabamba, Bruhns (Bruhns, Burton and Miller, 1990) in Pirinkay, and Guffroy (1987) in Catamayo (Loja).13



The Oriente

47Porras (1987) excavations at units MS-HP-C3 and MS-HP-CH, near de Upano river have provided data for the definition of the Pre-Upano phase. 14C dates associated with Pre-Upano are similar to Valdivia lb, and seem to antedate Upon I by three thousand years. Early Pastaza pottery dates to Valdivia 3.

48The Pastaza midden, excavated by Porras (1975b) in the Huasaga river, clearly represents two occupations, separated by an undated volcanic ash deposit. The four assays, two charcoal samples form above the tephra deposit (1-9157, ISGS-384) and two from the deeper occupation (1-9158, ISGS-385) were comparatively run at Teledyne Isotopes and at the Illinois Geological Survey 14C laboratories.



49The separation of the two occupations was evident in Porras’ profile drawing sent to Lathrap, showing the provenience of each sample, each sample provenience was confirmed by Porras (1975b) before the 14C assays were disclosed to him. The blurring of the association between Pastaza phase ceramics and radiocarbon dates, was introduced by Porras (1975b) when he seriated the two occupations of the Huasaga site as uninterrupted by the tephra layer, which actually separated them more than three millennia. Lathrap comments are worthwhile quoting: “The date of the upper level is consistent with its pottery content, which exhibit features (such as corrugation) that are widespread in protohistoric and historic time in the upper Amazon. The dates for the lower deposit agree with alignment between Valdivia VI (6) Ecuador Coast and Pastaza phase as now known..” However, calibrated-dates for the early Pastaza occupation, align not with Valdivia 6 as originally proposed by Lathrap, but fall within the 2800-2400 BC bracket for Valdivia 3 calibrated dates.

50Los Tacos phase according to Porras (1978:228) has been dated although there are no laboratory references, he mentions that both TL dates obtained from potsherds and 14C from shells align at 1500 BC, and with early coastal Machalilla with which it bears some similarity, sharing the stirrup spout. At Los Tayos a Coast-Oriente relationship is implied by the presence of the Panamic-Pacific thorny oyster (Spondylus princeps, Broderip) offerings.

  • 14 Peñón del Río (Marcos, 1987), Milagro (Gonzalez n.d., La Cadena-Quevedo ( Reindel, 1995).

51Cotocollao, in the Quito Valley and Early Cerro Narrio and Chaullabamba in Cañar and Azuay although not directly associated with the Oriente styles discussed above, share with them a tradition for fineness and thinness which is not present in Valdivia. The Sierra styles, on the other hand clearly share some stylistic features with Machalilla and Chorrera. Such stylistic puzzle speaks for a strong regional interaction during the Ecuadorian Formative. The construction of middle and late Formative styles seems to have been a rather complex process which needs a further and deeper study for its explanation.14

Changes in settlement pattern during the FormativePeriod

  • 15 Zevallos 1965/66; Paulsen and MacDougle, 1981; Bischof, 1875a; Marcos, 1982; Evans and Meggers, 19 (...)

52The Early Formative of Ecuador, as a Neolithic process maintained a practice common to all early farming societies the world over. More than a practice, the inherent strategy was to occupy the best lands for agriculture. The best land for agriculture any where are the rich alluvial deposits of the riverine flood plain. Lathrap (1970) demonstrated that this is the preferred settlement pattern in the Tropical Forest of South America. Sherratt (1976:558) has shown a similar settlement pattern occurring in the European riverine systems draining to the Baltic, and this is also true for other parts of the world like in New Zealand. This resulted in a dendrite pattern of settlements, along riverine systems and their rich flood plains. Depending on the width of the valley, and that of the flood plain, the Formative farmers settled right on the bottom lands, or on the surrounding bluffs, and in a few cases on hill sides, as so many regional surveys have shown in Coastal Ecuador (Raymond, 1993; Tobar, 1988; Zeidler, 1986).15

  • 16 Bruhns, et. al., 1990; Gomis, 1992; Temme, n.d.; Guffroy, 1987

53Sometime ago, I proposed that changes in settlement pattern during the Formative, corresponded to changes in the forms of production and in the mode of living (Marcos, 1988b:185-193; Marcos and García, 1988). More recently (Marcos, 1993) I suggested that these changes could be determined by archaeological investigation, and accordingly divided the Valdivia Period into four stages. I took into consideration the settlement pattern and excavation data from Real Alto and its satellite sites; as well as those from San Pablo and from San Lorenzo del Mate in the Santa Elena Peninsula; and from Peñón del Río and Colimes de Balzar, in the Guayas Basin. Other sites, Loma Alta, Punta Concepción and Punta Tintina were also taken into account.16

54It was evident that during the first period, Real Alto was a small circular village, approximately 150 m. in diameter. This intrasite settlement pattern lasted approximately 1400 yeas, covering Valdivia Phases la to 2a (4400 BC to 3000 BC). Its 50 to 60 inhabitants apparently lived in small 3.50 m. by 2.40 m. single family, elliptical plant and bent poles, thatched, huts. To complete the similarity with ethnographic circular villages, the men might have slept in a central, larger (8x6 m.) and more substantial structure (Damp, 1988; Marcos, 1993:22).

55During the second period, that lasted some 600 years, between 3000 BC and 2400 BC, there were important changes in intrasite settlement pattern, and community development. During Valdivia Phases 2b and 3, a major change took place in Real Alto. The circular village gave way to a rectangular pre-urban settlement with a central plaza. It covered approximately 16 hectares. In the Plaza, four mounds topped by public buildings, looked down on the open space. The two largest mounds, Mound ‘A’ or “Fiesta-House Mound”, and Mound ‘B’ or “Charnel House Mound”, faced each other in the northern third of the open plaza. These two mounds and the space between them, formed “the Ceremonial Precinct”. The two smaller mounds, Mound ‘C’ on the northeast sector of the plaza, and Mound ‘D’ on the southwestern side, appear to have been destined to meetings and ceremonies by the “initiated few” in each one of the village halves.

56The size and substance of the village houses also changed (Álvarez, 1989), from the smaller single family huts described above, to elliptical solid structures, with upright post walls, covered with daub, and topped by large thatched roofs. The house-plan of this structures was between 10 m. and 12 m. on the longer axis and between 7 m. and 9 m. on the shortest one, and were apparently occupied by extended families (Zeidler, 1984:73-99).

57The third period corresponded to the 600 years that elapsed between Valdivia phases 4 and 7 (2400-1800 BC) when part of the on-site population moved from the central place at Real Alto to satellite hamlets along the Río Verde and Río Real. The size of houses remained roughly the same as in the previous period. In the northern segment of the village, houses were not built during this period, while bell-shape storage pits appeared in grater numbers.

58During Valdivia phase 8 (1800-1450 BC) major regional centers appeared in deep inland valleys, like San Isidro, in the province of Manabí; San Lorenzo del Mate, in Guayas province; or near the coast, like La Emerenciana, in El Oro. During this period the great changes that led to the consolidation of the Neolithic in the area were crystallized.

59The Real Alto settlement pattern and sauce-political organization suggested by Zeidler conforms nicely with the changes in forms of production I have shown elsewhere (Marcos, 1993:19-26).

60While archaeological surveys in several areas of Ecuador have provided information about different forms of regional settlement pattern during the Formative, and later periods, little inter-site mode of settlement is known for sites other than Valdivia. At Cotocollao, for instance, where excavations were conducted for a long period of time, salvage archaeology constrains did not permit to fully visualize this lacustrine Formative village mode of settlement. Post molds in some excavation units could be interpreted as evidence of a combined part-palafitic/part-on-shore settlement typical of lacustrine Neolithic villages (see Villalba, 1988:63, Figs.34 &35).

Changes in forms of production

61At Real Alto, Colimes de Balzar, Peñón del Río, and at San Lorenzo del Mate, Changes in agricultural production were evidence by:

62Changes in size and shape of stone axes, stone and shell adzes.

63Changes in settlement pattern.

64Changes in number and size of food preparation and food storage pits.

65The introduction public-works for agricultural intensification.

66The initial Valdivia form of production between 4400-3000 BC is characterized by door-yard garden horticulture, combined, with open sea fishing and rock bottom diving, estuarine and intertidal fishing and collecting, and generalized hunting and gathering (Damp, Pearsall y Kaplan 1981; Damp 1988; Marcos 1988a, 1993:20-22; Marcos y Garcia, 1988). Plant food production at the Santa Elena Peninsula during the second period (3000 BC-2400 BC) is characterized by slash and burn agriculture, conducted at short walking distance from the site. However, in the Guayas Basin during this period extensive flood plain agriculture seems to be the norm (Lathrap, Marcos y Zeidler 1977; Lathrap y Marcos 1975; Raymond, Marcos y Lathrap, 1980; Marcos 1993:22-23).

67Although the evidence for collecting, fishing, hunting and gathering continues throughout the sequence, it appears to become less important and more specialized with time. Fishing, centers on the smaller species of sharks, ocean catfish, jacks, groupers, and bonito. Occasional vertebras of big-eye or yellow-fin tunas and large sharks show that during the middle and late Valdivia period open sea fishing was carried out by people handling efficient water crafts and fishing arts. The presence of deep sub-littoral shell species like Lyropecten subnudosus, Spondylus princeps, show free-diving activity by specialized divers who could go down between 7m. to 30m. deep (Mester, 1990). The generalized hunting evident in Vegas and early Valdivia contexts, gave way to a concentration on larger game, of which the White tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) was a favored specie. Sometime rests of large cats like the Mountain lion (Felis concolor) and the Jaguar (Panthera onca) have been identified in Real Alto, and in other middle and late Valdivia contexts.

68Evidence for extensive, riverine flood-plain agriculture appears in the Santa Elena Peninsula between 2400-1800 BC At Real Alto, this is evidenced by the subsidiary occupation of the Río Verde and Río Real flood plains, and by the construction of a large number of storage pits at the, otherwise unoccupied, northern end of the site (Marcos, 1988b: 159-160; 1993:23-24).

69Infrastructure destined to the intensification of agriculture are found both at the Valdivia 8 occupation (1800 BC - 14500 BC) of the San Pablo site, and at Peñón del Río (Marcos, 1987). In the first case, horseshoe shaped dirt embankments hold surface run-off rain water, which slowly sipped in to enrich the aquifer. These are known locally as “Albarra-das”, and were translated into English by MacDougle as “Walk-in Wells”. The stored water was then extracted though deep wells for pot irrigation. This system was further developed during the Engoroy phase (850-300 BC) in the “Muey-La Libertad area (MacDougle, MS). Stothert (1990, 1991) excavating one of these large “walk-in wells” found an Engoroy dedicatory offering at the bottom of the embankment, consisting of Egoroy ceramics and “Spondylus princeps” valves.

70Engoroy, defined by Bushnell (1951) is the coastal variation of a Guayas Basin-Manabí province ceramic complex named Chorrera by Estrada (1958). Although the name Engoroy precedes the term Chorrera, the extensive use of the latter to identify the ceramic complex of Coastal Ecuador dating between 850-300 BC, generated a discussion that was finally settled at the Salinas Symposium in 1971. It was decided then, that the term Chorrera should identify the Coastal Late Formative as a whole, while Engory would be considered a phase of Chorrera, and the term should only be used to characterize the Santa Elena Peninsula ceramics identified by Bushnell.

71In Peñón del Río, the earliest on site occupation dates to Late Valdivia. On the southern sector of the ridged field complex, Parsons and Schlemon (1987) 14C dated a channel of the system, near the de Matanzas, to approximately 3955± 95 BP. This assay, dates calibrated to the 68% range between -2847,-2088 (Mid 2462 BC), confirming that it was built between Valdivia phases 4 and 7. However, the ceramic excavated at the bottom of some of the Peñón del Río test pits are phase 7 and 8, pointing to the upper dates of the calibrated range. As the Albarradas of the Santa Elena Peninsula, ridged fields were in full use by Chorrera Guayas Basin farmers (Martínez, 1987, Marcos, 1987, 1995a).

Development of ceramic manufacture

72Ceramic analysis of Real Alto and San Lorenzo del Mate potsherds have shown that since phase lb Valdivia potters were selecting clays, and manipulating ceramic fabric, according to their intended use (Avarez, Marcos and Spinolo, 1995; and other papers in press and in preparation). The shards were separated into three classes according to their function. suggested by context association, vessel shape, and surface treatment and finish parameters. Shard fragments were pulverized and submitted to X-ray diffraction analysis. For statistical calculations of the mineralogical results the SPSS statistical package was employed. The use of this package allowed a considerable saving of time and because it is well tested one could be reasonably confident that the results are correct. In the SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences), the procedures used are listed in order of application: 1. Frequencies, calculates similar descriptive statistics for attributes measured in a nominal or ordinal scale and produces both tubular and histogram plots; 2. Condescriptive, which calculate measures of central tendency and dispersion for attributes measured on an interval or ratio scale; 3. Regression, accomplished a variety of multiple regression calculations; 4. Factor, provides several methods of factor analysis, including a principal component option; and 5. Discriminant, which performs discriminant analysis.

73The segregation of Valdivia ceramic into three functional groups was 99.5% validated by the SPSS statistical package applications.

74For the manufacture of cooking pots and for liquid storage vessels, there was a selection for the feldspars-rich clays that occur naturally in the area. These clays are found in pockets, on some of the bluffs in the riverine valleys of the Santa Elena Peninsula. Fired between 800 and 900 °C they produce very strong, durable utilitarian wares. However, the fabric used in cooking pot manufacture, contained a larger quantity of quartz than those in liquid vessels, quartz being predominant over feldspars. This uncommon combination, does not seem to occur naturally in the Peninsula, or it is very rare, suggesting that the fabric was manipulated by the addition of quartz rich sands, commonly found in river bottoms. Natural or not, in selecting for a quartz- rich fabric, the thermal shock resistance of cooking vessels was greatly increased. The fabric used for serving and ceremonial wares was the more common naturally decanted clays, found nearly everywhere in the area. These contained only small and fine fraction with a lesser proportion of feldspars and quartz. These vessels were fired at low temperature, not reaching above 650 °C.

75In terminal Valdivia phases and later on in the Coastal Ecuadorian sequence, these differentiations became more clear cut, by Valdivia 8 the fancy ‘baroque’ ceremonial and fiesta wares were never fired beyond 600 °C, while cooking pots contained larger proportions of quartz to feldspars, inversely to the proportions found in the paste of vessels destined to contain liquids.

76Another characteristic aspects in vessel construction were surface treatment and surface finish. While cooking pots presented a rougher outer surface, they were well polished inside, this and the use of quartz as temper made them impermeable when hot. On the other hand, vessels for liquids were not polished inside the body, while the inside of the neck was well polished and slipped all the way to the outer rim. The exterior surface of the neck was unpolished and incised for easy and secure vessel handling. The outer body was well polished and slipped. The impermeable outside surface of the liquid container permitted the liquid to permeate close to the surface, producing condensation on the outside of the vessel body, which as it evaporated cooled the liquid inside, in a continuous and simple process of refrigeration.


77At Real Alto, other artifacts and manufactures appear consistently in different sectors of the site, showing that artisan specialization occurred through time (Marcos, 1992). Since Valdivia 3, activities to make shell artifacts, ceramics, and weaving are not evidenced at all sectors of the site, focalized areas of these activities appear in different areas and they seem to have consolidated in time, into what could be considered nuclei of specialists. These sectors destined to a particular activity apparently concerned not only with manufacture, a concentration of possible trade items in the northeast sector of the site, could speak for a group dedicated to handle trade relationships during Late Valdivia phases (Ibid.).

78Figurines, the Valdivia portable art par excellence, is still a poorly known subject that needs particular attention. There is a great variance of materials, sizes, shapes and styles for each on of the Early Valdivia phases. This is particularly true during phase 3, when different kinds of figurine appear together, discarded on house floors of this period. The great difference and wide distribution of figurines in the Santa Elena Peninsula sites at that time suggests a focalized manufacture of particular forms of figurines, that were widely exchanged throughout the area. This is a theme that calls for investigation. In this context, an example are the fragments of large figurines, around 30 cm., that appeared in Mound "B" at Real Alto during the 1975 excavation. In 1987 similar figurines were found whole at the Valdivia site near Salango. This might be interpreted as if the source area for these figurines might be southern Manabi. After phase 4, there appears to be a larger degree of standardization, and particular changes in style can be used as chronological indicators. As this changes coincide with stages in which there were changes in production and settlement pattern, a further study of the figurines as iconographic representations of social structuring should be pursued (Garcia, 1989; Marcos and Garcia, 1988). By Valdivia 8, changes that are going to characterize Machalilla and Chorrera figurines (Marcos, 1986c) appear for the first time. Solid, flat figurines with applique coffee-bean eyes, as well as hallow flask-like figurines are found in museum collections from San Isidro [Manabi], and were excavated at San Lorenzo del Mate [Guayas] (Cruz & Holm, 1981; Marcos & Avarez, 1989).

79In the formation of the Machalilla style two different traditions appear to have intervened:

80A coastal tradition of well made thick-walled pottery, represented by Valdivia, in which incisions, excisions and other manner of surface treatment combine with red slip and paint, and zone smudging introduced since Valdivia 6 (Marcos, 1988b: 89?).

81Another influence, is a thin walled fineware, engraved or painted with fine red lines. This is typical of the Sierra Formative tradition (Collier and Murra, 1943; Villalba, 1988), and could have an antecedent in the Early Pastaza ceramics of the Oriente (Porras, 1975b, 1987). The calibrated dates from the bottom levels at the Huasaga site, show that the earliest Pastaza occupation is contemporary with Valdivia phase 3.

82The strongest evidence for this hypothesis is found at Emerenciana, the transitional Valdivia-Machalilla site located by Staller in the Arenillas Area of El Oro province, near the Peruvian border. At San Lorenzo del Mate, Valdivia 8 ceramics become rather thin in section, and a slender long spout appears, similar to the “phallic” spout found By Juana Gonzales in a Valdivia 8 site outside of Milagro, and by Staller at the Emerenciana site below the Valdivia -Machalilla transitional level, where stirrup spouts appear for the first time in the coastal sequence. These findings, and the hypothesis they generated, need to be examined and tested by future investigation and analysis.

The formulation of Andean rituals

83The final day of excavation, during the 1974-75 field season, evidence of the ritual association “Mullo”-“Pututo” was found at Real Alto (Marcos, 1985; 1986a, 1986b). We located a large left valve of Spondylus pinceps and a shell trumpet made from a Strombus peruvianus conch between a te-trapod red-slipped bowl, and a rare tripod one, at the foot of a small ramp leading to a burnt Valdivia phase 2 ceremonial structure at the bottom of Mound B. This ritual association precedes by approximately 2500 years, similar formulations found at the ‘Smiling God’ stelae and at the Tello Obelisk in Chavin de Huantar (Paulsen, 1974). Uhle found a similar, although more complex offering at a temple-mound at Chiguilanchi, Loja, associated with Chaullabamba ceramics (Jijón y Caamaño, 1951), approximately dating between 1700 to 1500 BC, coeval with Valdivia Phase 8.

84The ritual use of Spondylus increased through time since Valdivia 3, and by Phase 8, funerary masks and large biconvex plaques are evidenced common the museum collections from San Isidro (Manabí). In the excavation of a 2 x 3 m. test pit (SLM-2B) at San Lorenzo del Mate, we found two Spondylus ‘funerary masks’, as well as several large necklace plaques (Marcos and Álvarez, 1989). These masks are similar to those in the Banco Central collection, purchased from huaqueros from San Isidro, Manabí. The large bi-convex side-perforated plaques are also similar to those excavated by Grieder at La Galgada, Perú (Zeidler, 1991). With the development of Andean rituals around “Mullo” and “Pututo”, a complex network of long distance exchange and trade flourished. The development of long distance trade was part of a trading system that grew, like the world over, as an inherent result of the Neolithic process in the area (Zeidler, 1977/78, Marcos, 1977/78).

The evolution of exchange and trade relations

85Sherratt (1976:558-559) has shown that farmers occupied the richest loess bottom lands where stable crops could grow. “In order to make use of these locations, however, another set of resources is required - hard stone for tools, for example, or supplies of salt to offset dietary deficiency. By and large, such resources occur in different environments, and only a limited number of agricultural settlements have direct access to them”. During this period, a large amount of related villages can be appreciated in the several regional surveys carried out in the Santa Elena Peninsula, Southern Manabí and the Guayas Basin. The Formative Period settlement pattern speaks for closely associated villages. A continuous exchange of population from village to village helped create a network of relationships, that served to offset inequalities in local production and provided a wider pool of assistance. In this manner, for example, San Pedro fishermen traded fish with Valdivia and Loma Alta farmers for vegetable products. At Real Alto, this is evidenced by the disappearance of genetic tares, like a large number of examples of teeth growing inwards in the upper maxillar and into the sinus (Uber-laker, In Marcos and García 1988). The disappearance of these tares can only be explained by renewed genetic flow, involving regional inter village population exchange.

86A pattern of ‘random walk’ among related villages was followed by the materials in the course of such exchanges. However, some classes of materials might show a general trend or a drift within the network as they moved towards areas of scarcity. A division between two modes of exchange would result in these cases, one that involves villages linked directly with to the production zone by face-to-face contacts, and kinship links, and the other areas of settlement without direct access to the production zone, receiving supplies through intermediaries (Sherratt, 1976:558).

87Formative, like Neolithic societies had a problem to face, and avoid, when some extensively need material might be unavailable because of a lack of items to exchange for them. In overcoming this, the circulation of non-utilitarian goods plays a vital role in mobilizing demand. In the Northern Andes, as in Central Europe, Spondylus shells played a central role as a ‘fly-wheel’ of the economy (Ibid: 558-560).

88However, there were other items, like axes, made from scarce or imported raw materials, but not of every day use, which were not replaced very often. An example are Valdivia polished T-shape and other axes, which were not a common item at Real Alto. The only examples came from contexts associated with the public building on mounds ‘A’ and ‘B’, and none from the excavated house holds, showing that they use was restricted by the governing few.

Early evidence for trade relationships

89The first obvious evidence of trade became apparent as the excavations of Real Alto progressed. While a great number of the hinge sector of Spondylus valves appeared, very few whole valves, still fewer beads and pendants were found, suggesting that residents at Real Alto were manufacturing beads and pendants, but were sending them elsewhere.

90Other items that pointed out towards trade, were small vessels (5-7 cm. in diameter) with two side by side holes near the rim, to pass a string through them for hanging. There was evidence of lime inside these vessels, and some were quite full. These lime-pots were found in association with burials from Structure 7 in Mound B, named by D.W. Lathrap as the Char-nel House Mound, for the number of burials found in structure 7 at the top of the Mound (Lathrap, Marcos and Zeidler, 1977). Most burials analyzed presented heavy dental calculus similar to that found in coca-chewing populations (Kleppinger, Khun and Thomas, 1977).

91Besides “Mullo”, “Pututo” and Coca, raw materials and manufacture appeared to have been important trade items. Among these, as we have seen already was “hilo de caracol”. Obsidian was a late comer into the area, and more an exotic than a utilitarian raw material (Marcos, 1992). Its use was limited due to the large outcrops of chert found along the coast from the Santa Elena Peninsula to southern Manabí. Sherratt (1976:561-562) shows that during the European Neolithic in areas where there was not useful obsidian, but ample chert deposits existed, the use of imported obsidian was minimal. From the Late Formative, onwards, the manufacture of obsidian mirrors is evident in museum collections.

Prestige exotics at Real Alto: Obsidian blades and El Mogote ware

92A ceramic ware called originally Protomachalilla by Lathrap (Marcos, Lathrap and Zeidler, 1976) appeared in the excavations of the upper levels of the northeast sector of Real Alto. It was thought to represent a post-Valdivia occupation of the site (Zeidler, 1984:202-204). However, recent excavations at Real Alto have shown that this ceramic and obsidian blades appear in seccure Valdivia 7 contexts -house floors, storage and food preparation pits- and that is only found in the northeastern sector of the site (Marcos, 1992). This thin, yellowish-red ware, noted Zeidler, is somewhat similar to the Machalilla Incised and Punctated type defined by Meggers, Evans and Estrada (1965: plate 144 w-z; plate 147 e-f) and to Porras (1977) type “M” Alausi Zone Punctated. However, these vessel shapes are quite different from the Real Alto sample (Zeidler, op. cit.).

93Because there is no close similarity between this thin yellowishred ware with any actual Machalilla ceramic complex, it is felt that the use of Protomachalilla to identify this unique Real Alto ware should be dropped in favor of another label. I have proposed elsewhere (Marcos and Michzynski, 1996) to identify this ware by the geographic name for the bluff where Real Alto is located, Loma del Mogote. Refering to it as Mogote ware; calling the undecorated samples Mogote thin yellowishred ware, and the decorated ones Mogote Incised Zone Punctate.

94Early Cotocollao ceramics corresponding to Formal Class I Curvilineal Incised Punctate (Villalba, 1988: fig 87, plate 2 k, l) and Formal Class II Incised Zoned Punctate (ibid:fig 92, plate 8 a-e, j, h), are other similarity worthy of note.

95Source area analysis destined to determine the provenience of the Mogote ware, and associated obsidian blades, point out to the Valley of Quito as their probable origin. Ceramic source area analysis was carried out at the Archaeological Materials Service, Geology Department, Universitat utònoma de Barcelona. While, obsidian blades were treated by G. Bigazzi at the Geochemical Isotope Laboratory, Pisa, Italy.

96Ceramic provenience can be best determined by the mineralogical composition of the non -plastic fraction, than by the type of clay. In Ecuador, the clay more commonly used is Illite, and only in a few focalized examples the use of Kaolin has been detected, and Montmorillonite in fewer cases.

97Starting with a survey the mineralogical study of the materials used in ceramic on the Santa Elena Peninsula and the western Guayas Basin, it became evident that a discrepancy existed in the composition of Mogote ceramics. X-ray diffraction and polarized light petrographic analysis showed that the non-plastic fraction in the Mogote samples was made up of volcanic materials - zoned plagioclase, clean-transparent quartz, abundant basaltic hornblende and, sporadically, olivine and granat. On the other hand, the size of the non-plastic component is larger in Mogote shards than in the Valdivia, Machalilla and Chorrera samples from the Santa Elena Peninsula. In this, Mogote ceramics resemble the Sierra Formative ceramics, like Cotocollao and La Mena, in the valley of Quito, or the Cerro Narrio, Chaullabamba or Pirinkay complexes of the southern Sierra. This is due to the erosive process, which is different in the Sierra because the shorter distance geological materials are transported, while in the Coast, minerals travel through white-water rivers and falls, down the Andes and along the coastal plain throughout the Guayas riverine system. Further microscopic comparison between Mogote and Sierra ceramics shows an affinity in fabric with those from the valley of Quito, being quite distinct from those of the southern Sierra, which fabric is made up of kaolin mixed with small quantities of montmorillonite.

98Furthermore, surface treatment and decoration of the thin (2.5-3 mm.), yellowishred, incised and punctated, Mogote ware (c.2000-1800 BC) resemble the later (1500-800 BC), thicker, brownish-red, linear incised and punctated component of the Early Cotocollao style, suggesting that an earlier antecedent was manufactured 500 years before, somewhere in the Valley of Quito.

99G. Bigazzi of The Institute of Geochronology and Isotopic Chemistry, National Research Council, Pisa, Italy, studied seven samples of obsidian, five were collected in the Chanduy area and two came from the Val-divia 8 levels at San Isidro, Manabi. The provenience of the two samples associated with Valdivia 7 and Mogote ceramics from Real Alto according to Biggazzi is the Loma Quiscatola flow in the Cordillera Real.

100Such an early evidence for a trade relationship between the Quito Valley people, with those inhabitants of Real Alto, settling the north east sector of the site during Valdivia phase 7, suggest the raise of trade specialists since late Valdivia.

101The beginning of the overland and maritime long distance trade that characterized the social formations that rose and developed in Ecuadorian prehistory (see Salomon, 1977/78, 1978; Zeidler; 1991; Marcos, 1995b).

102From this synthesis of the Formative process it becomes abundantly clear that our knowledge of the social history and life ways of the Valdivia phase has been greatly advanced through interdisciplinary research at Loma Alta, Real Alto and environs12. Investigations at San Isidro (Manabi), San Lorenzo del Mate and Anllulla (Guayas), La Emerenciana (El Oro)13 have enriched our understanding of the terminal Valdivia phase, and of the Valdivia-Machalilla transition. Archaeological research at the Guayas Basin14 has not only shown the widespread distribution of Valdivia 8, but the depth of the Valdivia historical process in the area (Raymond, Marcos and Lathrap, 1980). The appearance of a few Valdivia 8 sherds at R-53 on the lower drainage of Estero de Mafa, up river from Borbón, in Esmeraldas (DeBoer, 1996:68-70) demonstrates the need of further Formative research there, as well as in the Guayas Basin.

103The knowledge of Machalilla, its chronological position, its ceramic style, and its distribution has been contributed to by the work of Bischof (1975b), Lippi (1982), Paulsen and MacDougle (1974) and Zeidler (1986). However museum collections give a wider view of the Machalilla style than what has been offered by archaeological research. A good example of this can be seen in the Catalogue edited by the Field Museum of Natural History for the Ancient Ecuador exhibit (Lathrap, Collier and Chandra, 1975:32-34, 41, 82-86).

104This tendency is exacerbated during the Late Formative Period. Although, recent archaeological research15 has provided excellent information on Chorrera materials, and the Engoroy and Tachina variants, these do not compare with what the great number of vessel and figurine shapes and finishes found in national museums and museums abroad.

105This disparate information is the result of several problems that should be addressed to in Ecuadorian archaeology:

  1. A generalized concept that National Heritage (Patrimonio Nacional) is represented by portable art and monuments, rather than the historical data encapsulated in archaeological activity areas, and contexts within archaeological sites.
  2. Few archaeologists, on the other hand, have directed their interest to the excavation of cemetery and ceremonial sites, directing their research mainly to archaeological middens. Although, it is important to construct of local chronologies, and through interdisciplinary research discover the forms of production that were present, and to reconstuct life ways, leaving the excavation of ceremonial parefernalia and grave goods to those who supply collectors and museums leaves off and important aspect of archaeological material culture out of contextual archaeological analysis.
  3. This has been exacerbated by a national museum policy that directed most funds to the acquisition of archaeological material culture, rather than to research. This policy, supposedly directed to maintain Ecuadorian national heritage at home, resulted in the support of illegal excavations, and destruction of archaeological sites.

106Here we can only mention these problems to explain some of the reasons that have caused a differential knowledge of the Ecuadorian Formative. Especially for a long period of time in which Formative research focused mostly on the Coast. A welcome initiative by the Banco Central Archaeological Museum in Cotocollao, has served to reconstruct the early social history of the Quito Valley (Villalba, 1988). The survey conducted by the Belgian Archeological Mission (Buys, 1995) and the Central Bank Museums, The French Mission to the Andes, in the Central and Southern Sierra, are Also a welcome addenda1.

107Finally research in the Oriente is also a pending assingment, which is beginning to be directed in the right direction in Sangay (E. Salazar, this volume).


109“The six artifacts analyzed here belong to two distinct groups (formation ages between ~ 1.5 and ~ 1.7 Ma, and ~ 0.2 Ma, respectively). These two groups do not exactly correspond with those previously recognized by Miller and Wagner (1981) and Bigazzi et al. (1992). The younger samples yielded ages and track densities that fit well those determined on the younger outcrops studied by Bigazzi et al. (1992). Comparison of FT parameters point to the Mullumica obsidians, especially for two of them (004 and 005). For two of the older artifacts (002 and 007), a provenance from the Loma Quiscatola flow seems rather likely. Finally, artifact 003 yielded FT data - track densities, age and a surprisingly low (in relation with its age) annealing rate - which recall the Cerro Yanaurcu obsidian.”

110“Although exploitation of two of these potential sources is well documented (Mullumica and Quiscatola, Asaro et al, 1981, Salazar, 1992), significant morphological changes were produced by natural events and human activities in the last millennia. Therefore, the correlation of artifacts with specific obsidian occurrences given above has to be regarded with caution. Nevertheless, attribution of the artifacts subject of this work to the volcanic district of the Cordillera Real studied by Bigazzi et al. (1992) appears unquestionable”.



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1 On leave from Centro de Estudios Arqueológicos y Antropológicos CEAA, Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral ESPOL, Guayaquil, Ecuador.

2 O. Tobar and E. Navarrete,

3 G. Spinolo, M. Martini, and E. Sibilia

4 G. Bigazzi

5 A. Michczynski

6 A. Álvarez Pérez

7 Thais crassa is a synonym for Thais (Vasula) melones (Duclos, 1832) (Keen, 1971:550).

8 Marcos and Michczynski, 1996 (in press).

9 Supported by the EC Delegation XII

10 Valdivia phase 8b is proposed as a result of the study of the archaeological ceramic squence at San Lorenzo del Mate, and the TL dates for the upper levels of Cut SLM-2B. In the upper deposit appear long slender bottle spouts and pedestal plates and compoteras, in the Valdivia 8 style. An addition to the Valdiivia 8 indicators proposed by Hill (1972/1974), but not found before in the Valdivia sequence. This is compatible with the phase Staller (1994) has defined as a Valdivia-Machalilla transitional phase. Due to the singularity of some of its elements it should, after further study, be considered as a distinct phase and defined as Valdivia 9.

11 All dates are based on 14C calibrations In M. Ziólkowski, M. Pazdur, A. Krzanowski & A. Michezynski. 1994, ANDES, Radiocarbon Database for Bolivia, Ecuador and Perú. Warzawa-Gliwice, Poland. And on the TL dates for Coastal Ecuador, by M. Matini et. al. 1995MS.

12 This research has been amply referrenced in the text above.

13 Zeidler, 1992; Jadán, 1986; Marcos and Álvarez, 1989; Staller, 1994.

14 Peñón del Río (Marcos, 1987), Milagro (Gonzalez n.d., La Cadena-Quevedo ( Reindel, 1995).

15 Zevallos 1965/66; Paulsen and MacDougle, 1981; Bischof, 1875a; Marcos, 1982; Evans and Meggers, 1982; López y Sebastián and Caillavet, 1976; Zedeño, 1991.

16 Bruhns, et. al., 1990; Gomis, 1992; Temme, n.d.; Guffroy, 1987

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