Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Return to Dos Mangas Pt. 2: Archaeology

The third and final post about my trip to Ecuador.

A trip back to Dos Mangas would not have been complete without a tour of some of the key archaeological sites that I identified a few years back, with an eye to future research. We went back out to Buen Suceso, and while the field with the Valdivia site has been plowed twice in the intervening years it hasn't been planted, which has minimized some of the damage to the site. This time we were also able to do some informal survey in the fields on the other side of the dirt road that bisects the former boarding school lands. Much to my joy we found some pretty interesting evidence of a Manteño occupation, including several low platforms where houses were likely located. 
Ask and ye shall receive. Large chert flake, olla rim sherd, and Manteño mascarone found in the field. Quarter for scale.

The community is talking about turning this area into a protected archaeological zone. Considering that artifacts from the entire prehispanic cultural sequence are present in these few fields, that seems like a worthy goal. These fields also lie alongside one of the existing ecotourism paths that the community has developed. If the community moves ahead as planned then we will have the opportunity to integrate archaeological information alongside the existing tourism economy.
Before and after my little tour. The joys of working in a tropical environment.

Back in the village proper, the state of archaeology wasn't as positive. If you remember my last post, you'll recall that USAid has contributed extensively to Dos Mangas, including sponsoring a remodel of the casa comunal. The final project looks great, but there's one downside. The materials from my excavations were stored there, and when they did the remodel, they moved the bags and boxes. Into a disused house. That's missing half its roof. If you're having trouble imaging the condition of my excavated collection, well, I have a picture for you.

The community members who were the most involved in the project weren't aware that the collection had been moved, or its current state. I left behind some funds and detailed instructions about how prevent further damage to the site, and it will be moved to a better storage location within the community tourism interpretation center.
The collection will have a new home on this side of the village. There's also some available land to build a small museum....

The last big achievement that we managed during my visit was to sign a convenio between myself and the community. This document outlines our mutual benefits and obligations as we move forward with future archaeological work and the integration of these projects with community tourism and development goals. I can't wait to get back to work!

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