Ecuador before de Incas
Numerous indigenous cultures thrived in Ecuador for thousands of years before the Inca conquered the area. The Valdivia culture in the Pacific coast region is the earliest known Ecuadorian culture. Ancient Valdivian artifacts from as early as 3500 B.C have been found along the coast of the city of Santa Elena, capital of the Province of the same name.
Several other cultures, including the Quiucaras and the Cañaris, emerged in other parts of Ecuador after the Valdivians. There are other major archeological sites in the coastal provinces of Manabí and Esmeraldas and in the middle Andean highland provinces of Tungurahua and Chimborazo. With the archeological evidence uncovered to date, we know that Ecuador was inhabited for at least 4,500 years before the Inca arrived, however, many believe that the area was populated even earlier, possibly as far back as 10,000 B.C.
Many Pre-Columbian traditions survive today. Photo by Sincha Sacha.
Great tracts of Ecuador, including almost all of the Oriente, remain unknown to archaeologists; a fact that adds credence to the possibility the country was populated before 3,500 B.C. There has been increased attention to the Amazon region recently but the forest is so remote and dense that it takes years for research teams to survey even a small area.