Valdivia Culture Forms Villages in Coastal Ecuador (Great Events from History: The Ancient World, Prehistory-476)
Article abstract: The Valdivia culture made a highly successful hunting-and-gathering adaptation to life in the tropical forest of northwestern South America, involving the formation of nucleated settlements and the construction of complex ceremonial and ritual architecture.
Summary of Event
For most of the twentieth century, southwestern coastal Ecuador was seen as an archaeological backwater, where little interesting had happened in the past. All of this changed in the 1960’s, when American archaeologist Betty Meggers and her colleagues published their research on a series of sites in the region. Among the most startling of their claims was that the ceramics found at the earliest sites they excavated, such as Valdivia, were derived from trans-Pacific contacts with the Jōmon culture of Japan. The Valdivia ceramics, they argued, had strong stylistic affinities with the Jōmon materials and were, in their opinion, too finely made to have been the first ceramic assemblage to have developed in Ecuador. Their claim provoked controversy and led to renewed research effort into the Formative period archaeology of Ecuador.
Other controversies soon arose, the most important of them the argument that maize diffused into the Valdivia region from Mesoamerica fairly early and formed the basis of the subsistence economy. The quantities of maize found at Early Valdivia sites was always very small, less than would be...
(The entire section is 1432 words.)
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