Dumbarton Oaks, Pre-Columbian Studies Public Lecture: Francisco Valdez


Dumbarton Oaks Pre-Columbian Studies

Francisco Valdez
Institut de Recherche pour le Développement

The Mayo Chinchipe-Marañón Culture: Pandora’s Box in the Upper Amazon

This lecture will present the results of recent archaeological work carried out on the eastern slopes of the Andes and focuses on the discovery of a new Prehispanic culture that originated in the Chinchipe river basin on the border of present day Ecuador and Peru. Carbon dating (5500 BP) places the finds in the early Formative Period in Ecuadorian chronology and in the Archaic or Preceramic period of Peru. Architectural evidence reveals a small village built around a central sunken plaza with two artificial platforms. The eastern platform served as the base of a temple with a spiral configuration, at the center of which lay a ceremonial hearth with a cache of greenstone offerings. Several tombs have been documented with fine ceramic vessels; exquisite polished stone bowls and mortars, as well as hundreds of turquoise and malachite beads fragments of Strombus sea shells, and small sculptures. Direct evidence of corn (Zea mays), beans (Fabacceae), manioc (Manihot esculenta), sweet potato (Ipomooea sp.), Name (Dioscorea sp.), Arrowroot (Maranta sp.), hot peppers (Capsicum sp.), cacaco (Theobroma sp.) and coca (Erythroxylum coca). These exciting finds show that the upper Amazon selva was a key node in the early cultural developments of Northwestern South America and in the emergence of Andean Civilization.

Francisco Valdez is a research fellow at the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement in France, and holds a PhD in Ethnologie et Sociologie Comparative from the University of Paris X (Nanterre) and l’École Pratique des Hautes Études. Valdez specializes in the ethnological prehistory of tropical America, and has led archaeological research in Ecuador, Mexico and France. His publications address the rise of early complex societies in upper Amazonía, the evolution of the pre-classic to post-classic societies of western Mexico, the early metallurgy of coastal Ecuador, and more recently the first social use of cacao in the Americas.

Thursday, December 4th, 2014
5:30 pm in the Music Room of Dumbarton Oaks
1703 32nd Street, NW Washington, DC 20007

The lecture is open to the public without charge.
Advance registration is required.
RSVP: mckennak@doaks.org or 202-339-6440.

Kelly McKenna
Program Coordinator
Pre-Columbian Studies
Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection
1703 32nd Street, NW
Washington, DC 20007
T: (202) 339-6444

About the author

Gaëtan Juillard

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