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Excavations at Pirincay in the Paute Valley of southern Ecuador, 1985–1988

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2015

Karen Olsen Bruhns
Department of Anthropology, San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco CA 94132, USA
James H. Burton
Laboratory for Archaeological Chemistry, Department of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin, Madison WI 53706, USA
George R. Miller
Department of Anthropology, California State University, Hayward CA 94542, USA


The Formative in the northern Andes

The northern Andean regions, encompassing northernmost Peru, all of Ecuador and the southern provinces of Colombia, remain archaeologically very poorly known. Although the past 30 years have witnessed an increasing number of archaeological projects in coastal zones, especially the Santa Elena Peninsula, work in the highlands outside of the greater Quito commute zone has lagged sadly behind. Southern Ecuador, in particular, has had little investigation since earlier this century when first Max Uhle, then Donald Collier, John Murra and, finally, Wendell Bennett, demonstrated the existence of ‘Formative’ cultures in Ecuador through their investigations at sites along the Tomebamba and Paute rivers of Azuay province and at Cerro Narrío, just to the north in the Cañar Valley (Uhle 1922; Collier & Murra 1943; Bennett 1946; FIGURE 1).

Copyright © Antiquity Publications Ltd 1990

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The preliminary investigations at Pirincay, on the Atlantic watershed of the southern Ecuadorian Andes, were briefly described in the March 1987 ANTIQUITY. Since that article, much more of the site has been excavated, and analyses of excavated materials have clearly delineated its role in transandean trade during the last two millennia BC


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