Social Sciences

Examples of Aboriginal Cultures of Ecuador

Examples of aboriginal cultures of Ecuador
Jama-Coaque Culture
(350 BC – 1532 AD)

It developed in the north of Manabí, in an environment of forested hills near the beach. This society, dominated by a rich and powerful minority, ventured, like its neighbors, into long-distance trade by sea and land.

Its cultural and religious nucleus was in the ceremonial center of San Isidro, where one or more temples were built on a great pyramid, surrounded by an extensive town.

The art of its potters is manifested, especially in the elaboration of beautiful human figures that reflect various activities and occupations, highlighting those of a ceremonial nature. His clothing shows the existence of an important textile industry.

Manteño-Huancavilca culture
(ca. 500 – 1532 AD)

The populations carrying this culture occupied a vast territory, from Bahía de Caráquez, in the north, to the coastal plain of the province of El Oro, in the south. Ancient historical documents divide them into three different groups: the Paches or Manteños in Manabí, the Huancavilcas in the Santa Elena Peninsula, and the Punáes in Puná Island.

They were constituted in independent manors, Salangome being the one with the greatest influence on the Manabi Coast. Its capital corresponds to the monumental site of Agua Blanca, which probably had both a ceremonial and administrative character. This lordship expanded to the north of Manabí and the south of Esmeraldas (Atacames), motivated by the interest in controlling strategic points of connection between land and sea trade routes.

The Manteño – Huancavilcas were great navigators who sailed the ocean to Central America and Peru. Its main export and trade goods were the spondylus shell, cotton fabrics, gold, silver, copper objects and obsidian mirrors.

Guangala Culture
(100 BC – 800 AD)

It spread along the beaches and inland forms of the southern tip of Manabí and most of the Santa Elena Peninsula. Its main towns were located at the mouth of the rivers, also counting on small hamlets scattered in the dry forest.

Its main technological characteristic is reflected in the construction of albarradas or earth dikes to collect water from the scarce rainy seasons, in order to irrigate their crops for longer.

Its ceramic crafts are distinguished by the elaboration of musical instruments with anthropomorphic and zoomorphic motifs, as well as ocarinas in the shape of young women. In their decoration they used very stylized or geometric designs in polychrome or incised paint, and that made on the basis of the contrast between matt and polished surfaces.

They wore stone and shell ornaments, such as nose rings, necklaces, and a series of assorted pendants. In these materials, they also make Ilipta axes, hooks and boxes.

(900 – 300 BC)

It is the culture with the widest dispersion in Ecuadorian territory, constituting the antecedent of subsequent cultural manifestations, typical of the Period of Regional Development.

It was a strongly hierarchical society with marked occupational specializations, evidenced in the extraordinary technical and artistic quality of its ceramics. Fruits, animals and human beings are represented with abundant details and fine finishes, making them unique in the aboriginal ceramics of Ecuador.

Among its forms, the bottle-whistle stands out, which when pouring the liquid it contains, the displaced air passes through a resonance box reproducing the sound of certain animals. No less spectacular is the iridescent decorative technique, whose achievements have not been surpassed by any culture.

Machalilla culture
(1500 – 800 BC).

It developed in the southern coastal area of ​​Manabí and on the Santa Elena peninsula, in an environment of dry forest and thorn scrub, with access to the humid forest in the higher lands. In this scenario, intensive agriculture was practiced, accompanied by hunting, fishing and gathering.

A custom of this culture, which later spread to all the aboriginal groups of the Ecuadorian coast, was the deformation of the skull for aesthetic purposes and as a sign of “status.”

Their burials formed large cemeteries such as the one found in Salango. The placement of the corpse under the ceramic reproduction of a tortoise shell stood out as a peculiar feature.

A distinctive feature of its ceramics is the bottle with a stirrup-shaped handle and painted decoration based on red bands. Their figurines are of lower aesthetic quality than those of their Valdivia predecessors.

Cerro Narrío Culture
(2000 – 600 BC)

Also known as Chaullabamba, it flourished in the southern valleys of the current provinces of Cañar and Azuay. Their settlements generally occupied the hills or the high river terraces from where they dominated important communication routes that ran through the extensive Andean agricultural valleys.
Their subsistence was based on agriculture and camelid farming. A high nutritional supplement was obtained from hunting deer and other minor animals, from whose bones they make exquisite ornaments and artifacts.

The Cerro-Narrío site is considered an important commercial center in the Costa-Sierra-Amazonia connections, due to its contacts with Valdivia Terminal, Machalilla, Chorrera, and with the Upano tradition of the Sanagy skirts, from where they obtained products typical of the ecological floors of hot climate.

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