Cotocollao culture

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The Cotocollao culture were an indigenous Pre-Columbian culture the valley that is now Quito, in Ecuador.


The Cotocollao Indians were the first inhabitants of the mountains of what is now Ecuador. They lived approximately 1,500 to 500 years BCE. The Cotocollao had a culture based on art and they made very fine pieces of ceramic for the time in which they lived.


The study[specify] over the Cotocollao Indians began in 1976 when some school children[who?] found various human bones close to their school[specify]. It is believed[by whom?] that for their earliest funerals, they used corn husks to wrap up their dead, but later in their existence it was more common for them to bury their dead in a communal grave.

The Cotocollaos were farmers and their diet consisted primarily of corn and beans. They lived in a fertile valley[which?] which was good for planting corn. They occasionally would also eat wild fruit and hunt for meat.

Their houses were made of organic materials such as wood and straw, so they do not exist today. Because of this, many years were passed without knowing about their existence. Fortunately though, the holes for the posts which held up the houses still remain because they were made in volcanic rock, and because of these we know that they were about 6X8 meters (about 18X24 feet). The remnants of the village of the Cotocollaos is located in North Quito[specify][where?], and is about 1 km.2 altogether.

Many llama and alpaca bones have been found in the area[specify], but it is not sure[by whom?] whether they domesticated these animals, or whether they were the remains of what had been hunted and eaten.


Probably the most distinguishing feature of the Cotocollao Indians was their ability to create ceramic artwork. They made ceramics that were more for decoration than for their usefulness. It is not known whether or not they had a special place inside their houses to make ceramic artwork or not.

To make the ceramic, the Cotocollaos used a paste made of pumice powder. The surface of the ceramic is known for its distinctive red tint. So mastered were they at this artwork that some pieces of ceramic are even known to produce certain animal or bird sounds. The quality of the ceramics was superior to all others in that time period. From the thousands of fragments of ceramic found in the area today, about 20% of them are decorated in some form by incisions, red paint, and in some rare cases, an iridescent coating.