Valdivia culture

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The Valdivia Culture is one of the oldest settled cultures recorded in the Americas. It emerged from the earlier Las Vegas culture and thrived on the Santa Elena peninsula near the modern-day town of Valdivia, Ecuador between 3500 BC and 1800 BC.

map of Valdivia Culture
Valdivian pottery is the oldest in America. Valdivian pottery in the Museo de La Plata (Argentina).
Mortar, Jaguar Valdivia, South Coast ( 4000 to 1500 B.C).
Mortar, Parrot Valdivia, South Coast (4000 a 1500 BC).


The Valdivia culture was discovered in 1956 by the Ecuadorian archeologist Emilio Estrada. The Valdivia lived in a community that built its houses in a circle or oval around a central plaza and were sedentary people that lived off farming and fishing, though occasionally they went hunting for deer. From the remains that have been found, it has been determined that Valdivians cultivated maize, kidney beans, squash, cassava, chili peppers and cotton plants, the latter of which was used to make clothing.

Valdivian pottery initially was rough and practical, but it became splendid, delicate and large over time. They generally used red and gray colors; and the polished dark red pottery is characteristic of the Valdivia period. In their ceramics and stone works, the Valdivia culture shows a progression from the most simple to much more complicated works.

The trademark Valdivia piece is the "Venus" of Valdivia: feminine ceramic figures. The "Venus" of Valdivia likely represented actual people, as each figurine is individual and unique, as can be seen by the hairstyles. They were made joining two rolls of clay, leaving the lower portion separated as legs and making the body and head from the top portion. The arms were usually very short, and in most cases were bent towards the chest, holding the breasts or under the chin.

There is a display of Valdivian artifacts in Guayaquil, Ecuador at UEES.

Japanese-Valdivia contacts[edit]

Based on an assumption that what was called Ceramic phase A was the oldest pottery in South America and a comparison of archeological remains and pottery styles (specifically, the similarity between the Valdivian pottery and the ancient Jōmon culture on the island of Kyūshū, Japan) Estrada, along with the American archaeologist Betty Meggers suggested in the 1960s that a relationship between the people of Ecuador and the people of Japan existed in ancient times.[1] This was challenged by other archaeologists and later excavations found pottery pre-dating Phase A.[2]


  1. ^ Evans, Clifford; Meggers, Betty (January 1966). "A Transpacific Contact in 3000BC". Scientific American 214 (1): 28. 
  2. ^ Silberman, Neil Asher Silberman; Bauer, Alexander, eds. (2012). The Oxford Companion to Archaeology, Volume 1 (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 335. ISBN 9780199735785. Retrieved 26 January 2016. 

External links[edit]

External links[edit]

Valdivia Stone Carving