Las Vegas culture (archaeology)

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Las Vegas culture
Map showing location in Ecuador
Map showing location in Ecuador
Shown within Ecuador
Location Ecuador
Coordinates 2°14′S 80°52′W / 2.233°S 80.867°W / -2.233; -80.867Coordinates: 2°14′S 80°52′W / 2.233°S 80.867°W / -2.233; -80.867
Type Multiple ruins of settlements, some dating to more than 10,000 years ago.
Founded c. 8500 BCE
Cultures Las Vegas culture
See the section Las Vegas#Culture for information on the American city in Nevada.

The Las Vegas culture was a complex of late-Pleistocene and Holocene settlements along the coast of present-day Ecuador, which emerged between 8500 BCE and 4600 BCE (10,500 to 6,600 BP). The Las Vegas culture represents "an early, sedentary adjustment to an ecologically complex coastal environment."[1] Thirty-one Las Vegas sites have been identified on the Santa Elena peninsula of Ecuador, a biologically complex, tropical ecotone; radiocarbon dating has securely confirmed the evidence for Las Vegas.[2]

The Las Vegas people practiced hunting and gathering, and also developed primitive agricultural techniques. Bone points and a spatula have been discovered that may have been used for making nets or textiles, along with various tools and containers shaped of shell; wood, bamboo, reeds, and bark are also believed to have been used in the tool industry.[3]

Although mummies have not been documented from coastal Ecuador, the Las Vegas people were contemporaneous with and similar to the people whose remains are preserved as the Chinchorro mummies of the north coast of Chile.

Las Vegas social groups were small, but the local community probably had relations with similar people across the region. The Vegas people were healthy and their way of life endured with little change for 3,000 years. The small size of their shelters is evidence that the nuclear family may have been the main unit of production and consumption in Vegas times. [4]

Deer, fox, rabbit, small rodents, weasel, anteater, squirrel, peccary, opossum, frog, boa constrictor, indigo snake, parrot and lizard were exploited for food. Intertidal species and crab were also harvested in small quantities. The Las Vegans were broad-spectrum hunters and were able to hunt these many different species and not rely on any one source of food.

Approximately 6000 BCE, these peoples were among the first to be were bottle gourd, Lagenaria siceraria, and an early type of maize, Zea mays L.[5]


  1. ^ Stothert, Karen E. (July 1985). "The Preceramic Las Vegas Culture of Coastal Ecuador". American Antiquity (American Antiquity, Vol. 50, No. 3) 50 (3): 613–637. doi:10.2307/280325. JSTOR 280325. 
  2. ^ Stothert, Karen E.; Dolores R. Piperno; Thomas C. Andres (Fall 2004). "New Evidence of Early Holocene Agriculture from the Coast of Ecuador: A Multidisciplinary Approach". Culture & Agriculture 24 (2): 31–41. doi:10.1525/cag.2002.24.2.31. 
  3. ^ Bryan, Alan L. (2000). "Chapter 2: The Original Peopling of Latin America". General History of Latin America. UNESCO. Retrieved 2007-05-16. 
  4. ^ Stothert, Karen E. (July 1985). "The Preceramic Las Vegas Culture of Coastal Ecuador". American Antiquity 50 (3): 613–637. doi:10.2307/280325. 
  5. ^ Stothert, Karen E. (July 1985). "The Preceramic Las Vegas Culture of Coastal Ecuador". American Antiquity 50 (3): 613–637. doi:10.2307/280325.