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The formal definition of the Formative Period in the New World began with the seminal work of Gordon Willey and Philip Phillips (1958) in their attempt to devise a historicaldevelopmental periodization scheme for pan-hemispherical application. As Jorge Marcos has noted, this concept was largely “identical to what Gordon Childe had called the Early Neolithic” of the Old World (Marcos 2003:7), with connotations of agricultural production and sedentary village life. James A. Ford (1969) carried out the first detailed treatment of the concept for the Americas; he posed a unitary model of Formative development from maritime diffusion, which he pitted against an alternative explanation based upon the “psychic unity of man”. As Ford (1969: 9) defines it, the Formative Period consists of “the 3000 years (or less in some regions) during which the elements of ceramics, ground stone tools, handmade figurines, and manioc and maize agriculture were being diffused and welded into the socioeconomic life of the people living in the region extending from Peru to the eastern United States”. Such unitary diffusionist models were posited as early as 1917 by Herbert Spinden (1917, 1928), but were not systematically explored or championed until the work of Ford (1969) and, in more recent decades, various writings of the late Donald W. Lathrap (see, for example, Lathrap 1974, 1977, 1985, 1987; Lathrap et al. 1975), among others.

This chapter begins with a summary of the Formative Period cultures known for the coast and western lowlands: the Valdivia, Machalilla, and Chorrera cultures. Following that, I consider the Formative Period manifestations in the northern, central, and southern highlands, and the eastern lowlands or oriente. Figure 24.1 shows the locations of the various archaeological areas and sites discussed in the text.

Keywords

Formative Period Ceramic Assemblage Southern Highland Northern Highland Eastern Lowland 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • James A. Zeidler
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Environmental Management of Military LandsColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA

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