I am a 2008 graduate of the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School and right now I’m in my country studying archaeology. Considering that October is the month of archaeology in Massachusetts, I thought it was important to share the archaeological history of my beautiful country, Ecuador, with my family, friends and the community of the Vineyard.

The information I am sending is a synthesis of what I’ve learned through my studies.

The Pre-Columbian history of Ecuador begins around 10,000 years B.C. The first humans to have lived in what today is the coast of Ecuador during the Paleoindian Period were the Vegas Culture; they were nomads and did a lot of fishing to survive.

After this begins the Evolution of Ceramic that is divided in three different periods: • Formative, in which we can find one of the most important societies of our history, the Valdivia Culture (4200 B.C. to 2000 B.C.), which included the first people to work in ceramics, who created human figurines representing women’s fertility). Later in this period came the Chorrera Culture, whose ceramics are the most beautiful ones we have — the people of this period created the famous whistling bottles.

• Regional Development is when religion reaches an important level, and the main characteristics in ceramic decoration are management of paint, polishing lines and the use of fine colors. Some of the important cultures of this period include Jama-Coaque, La Tolita (the first ones to work with metals such as gold, silver and bronze), Bahia and Guangala.

• The Integration Period, the last one before the Spanish and Inca Conquest. During this phase we find two very important societies: the Manteno-Huancavilca and Milagro-Quevedo, both with well-defined territories. The first culture, Manteno-Huancavilca, lived in what nowadays is known as Manta and Guayaquil. They were great warriors and the first to fight against the Spanish, albeit with no luck. The Milagro-Quevedo lived in the south, specifically in El Oro, one of the provinces on the coast of Ecuador.

All these pre-Hispanic cultures were polytheistic and the four elements they worshiped the most were the sun, fire, water and earth. The spiritual guide of the tribe was the Shaman; one of his responsibilities was to communicate with spirits from the underworld.

Alexia Garcia Espinoza may be reached by e-mail at alexia-hp@hotmail.com.