Shards of incised ceramic vessels dating back to 4640-4460 BCE have been found at the site of Real Alto on the Ecuadorian coast.
The pottery fragments from the Real Alto site appear to belong to a previously unknown culture.
They predate Ecuador’s Valdivia culture, one of the oldest pottery-featured cultures recorded in the Americas.
“Sherds are either black or black-and-brown, from bowls and globular, necked jars,” said Dr. Andrey Tabarev from the Novosibirsk Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography and his colleagues from Japan and Ecuador.
“They were made using grog and stone temper, including some large particles visible on the surface.”
The pottery is handmade and constructed from clay coils that were subsequently smoothed without burnishing on either the exterior or the interior.
“It appears to have been fired at a low temperature (1,472-1,832 degrees Fahrenheit, or 800-1,000 degrees Celsius), and the appearance is typical of firing in reducing conditions (limiting the amount of oxygen during the firing process),” the archaeologists said.
“The rough, geometric decorations were made with shallow, linear incisions that had irregular margins as well as finger-gouging and rows of round punctation.”
Chemical residues found on the Real Alto pottery fragments suggest that some vessels were used for cooking.
“The mass emergence of pottery was a kind of technical breakthrough associated with many aspects of human life and the level of economic development in different parts of the globe,” said team member Dr. Alexander Popov, Director of the Educational and Scientific Museum FEFU.
“Ceramic vessels belonging to different cultures developed simultaneously confirm that our ancestors had evolved in terms of cultural diversity.”
“Despite the different vectors of human development, in the technological sense we were moving in the same direction.”
The team’s paper was published in the June 2019 issue of the journal Antiquity.
Yoshitaka Kanomata et al. 2019. New data on early pottery traditions in South America: the San Pedro complex, Ecuador. Antiquity 93 (369): e17; doi: 10.15184/aqy.2019.56
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