Mysterious 6,000-year-old pottery belonging to an ‘unknown culture’

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Mysterious 6,000-year-old pottery dating back as far as 4640BC belonging to an unknown culture has been found during excavations in Ecuador.  

An international team of archaeologists found fragments of ceramic vessels at a depth of 75 cm to 1 meter at a site known as Real Alto on the country’s Pacific coast.

They say it is from a previously unknown culture that may have lived alongside one of the oldest civilisations in America.

Radiocarbon analysis showed the pottery dates back to 4640-4460 BC, a period that borders or coincides with the first stages of Valdivia culture. 

The collection composing more than 40 fragments –  referred to as the ‘San Pedro’ complex – differ from the Valdivian culture however, by decorative composition and way of its application.

The shards of San Pedro pottery correlate with fragments from Real Alto and other places of archaeological excavations retrieved in the 1970s and 1980s, but attributed to no particular culture. 

While they bear similarities to those created by the Valdivia, they also display intriguing differences which suggest that they belong to another pottery-producing people who lived around the same time. 

‘The characteristics of San Pedro pottery differ considerably from the typical red-slipped and burnished Valdivia vessels, which are often decorated with more deliberate, smooth-sided incisions,’ the authors wrote in their study. 

‘The mass emergence of pottery was a kind of technical breakthrough associated with many aspects of human life and the level of economic development in different parts of the globe. 

Ceramic vessels belonging to different cultures developed simultaneously confirm that our ancestors had evolved in terms of cultural diversity. 

It is curious that, despite the different vectors of human development, in the technological sense we were moving in the same direction.’ Alexander Popov, head of the Russian archeaological expedition to Ecuador, said.

According to the scientist, at the next stage of excavation, the research team will look for additional artefacts of new culture. 

Such findings may well help to determine conditions for the culture development with more preciseness.

The findings were published in the journal Antiquity. 

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