Where the Land and the Ocean Meet: The Engoroy Phase Ceremonial Site at Salango, Ecuador, 600–100BC

  • Richard Lunniss

A series of rocky headlands and small islands reach into the sea along the southern coastline of the province of Manabí, Ecuador, outlying sentinels to the mainland and its forest-covered cordillera. This tropical oceanic landscape inspired and shaped religious practices from the time of earliest documented human presence there in the 4th millennium BC up to the arrival of the Spanish in the early fifteenth century. Yet the area, removed from those of denser population to north, east and south, has been largely considered peripheral also to the main streams of social and ideological development during the Formative period of Ecuador’s pre-Colombian history. Similarly, little attention has been paid to the meaning of the landscape and its components, which include a number of major ceremonial and sacred sites.

The relative invisibility of the constructed sites (as opposed to the natural landforms with which they were associated) has played a large part in the general failure to recognize their value. There can be no comparison between the size of the small scale wooden structures and clay platforms of even the largest Formative settlements and ceremonial centers in Ecuador with the massive stone built huacas of neighboring Perú and the great complexes of more distant Mesoamerica. Furthermore, Ecuadorian Formative sites are mostly long buried by alluvial soils or the anthropogenic deposits of subsequent occupation. Another factor has been the shortage of careful field work and full final reports.


Central Axis Rear Wall Post Hole Yellow Clay Shell Bead 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

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  • Richard Lunniss

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