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|Title: ||Archaeological Investigations on the Rio Napo, Eastern Ecuador|
|Authors: ||Evans, Clifford|
|Issue Date: ||4-Oct-1968|
|Citation: ||Smithsonian Contributions to Anthropology; 6|
|Abstract: ||The eastern slopes of the Andes attracted our attention in 1950, when it became
probable that the Marajoara Phase on the island of Marajo at the mouth of the Amazon
was derived from northwestern South America. Our first opportunity to investigate the
possibilities for archeological fieldwork came when we were in Guayaquil, Ecuador, in
1954 and met Coronel Jorge V. Gortoire, who had served for a period as commandant
of the Ecuadorian Army Post at Tiputini. Conversation with him reawakened our latent
interest in the area, and we began to make specific plans. In October 1956, having been
awarded Grant No. 2012 from the Penrose Fund by the American Philosophical Society
and granted official detail by the Smithsonian Institution, we returned to Ecuador to
undertake the fieldwork.
Through the courtesy of Coronel Rafael Andrade Ochoa, at that time Commander-
general of the Fuerza Aerea Ecuatoriana, we received authorization to fly from Quito
to Tiputini in an Ecuadorian Air Force DC-3 transport plane. However, almost daily
rains maintained the airstrip in unsuitable condition for landing and after several weeks
of waiting in Quito for the weather to break, we gave up and arranged to fly by commercial
airline in a Junkers Tri-Motor to Shell-Mera and then in a single engine Norseman to
Tena. A day on horseback brought us to Latas, where we secured a dugout canoe manned
by Quechua-speaking Indians to take us downriver. Although the trip was longer and
more difficult than it would have been by air, it gave us invaluable first-hand experience
with conditions along the Rio Napo (pis. 1-5). We were able to follow our hourly progress
on U.S. Air Force Preliminary Base Map 950A (Scale 1:500,000), which perfectly repro-
duced every bend and island. By the afternoon of the fifth day, when we arrived at Tiputini,
we were well prepared to appreciate the comments of Orellana's men, who preceded us
by 415 years.
When we stepped on shore at Tiputini, the military post that was to be our base of
operations, we were delighted to discover not only that there was an archeological site
on the spot, but that the pottery included incised and excised techniques of decoration
diagnostic of the Marajoara Phase, although only painted vessels had been previously
reported from the Rio Napo. With the cooperation of army personnel and local residents,
we were able to investigate a number of sites particularly along the portion of the river
between Tiputini and the mouth of the Rio Yasuni, which marks the boundary between
Ecuador and Peru. We also checked the lower Rio Tiputini. During our stay, the river
was unusually low, and extensive sand bars reduced the channel in places to a slender
meandering stream (pi. 4b). Giant trees temporarily resting on beaches (pi. 3b) attested
to the force of the current at other times of the year, lending credence to descriptions by
Orellana's companions (see pp. 106-107), who had the misfortune to encounter higher
water than we did.
At the conclusion of the survey, we had accumulated several tons of specimens and
were sufficiently familiar with the river to look forward to returning to Quito by air. As
was the case in October, intermittent rain kept the airstrip soft, but we were prepared to
wait as long as necessary this time, since going by river would have taken at least two
weeks. An Ecuadorian Air Force DC-3 finally came on December 15, and two hours after
takeoff we were in Quito—by every standard of comparison, another world.
We left behind us in the Province of Napo-Pastaza many friends never to be seen
again, and memories still fresh as we write this ten years later. Sr. Jose Bernardo Crespo
Pando made us his guests while we worked at Nueva Armenia, and allowed us to use his
home as a base from which to visit nearby sites. Philosopher, businessman, and astute
observer of the world from afar, he was an invaluable promoter of our cause as^ well as
an entertaining host. Several pleasant days were also spent at the home of Sr. Jose Rafael
Urvina on the Rio Tiputini, where we received all possible cooperation and courtesy.
Other land owners who granted us permission to work on their property and to whom
we offer our thanks are Sr. Juan Francisco Buitron (Hacienda San Juan, Cotacocha),
Sr. Osvaldo Bijarini Aridi (Florencia), and Sr. Alfonso Antonio Cox Vega (Bello Hori-
zonte). Sr. Pedro Jamn, at that time Jefe Politico of the Junta del Canton Aguarico,
kindly allowed us to dig a few holes in the main street of Nuevo Rocafuerte.
Since we were unable to arrange for a trip to the Rio Aguarico, we are particularly
indebted to Rene Alberto Hinoyosa Carrera, then a second lieutenant stationed at Tipu-
tini, who collected sherds for us from Cabo Minacho on the Rio Giiepi and Panacocha
on the Rio Cuyabeno (fig. 3). Other young officers at Tiputini, who provided us not
only with various kinds of assistance but also with pleasant companionship, include Solo-
man Hernandez V., Augustin Carvalho V., Raul Costales, and Fausto Bustamonte. We
are indebted to the commandant at that time, then Major J. Gonzalo Ramos Sevilla,
for permitting us to use Tiputini as our base, and providing us with quarters and other
kinds of help.
During our negotiations to enter the Oriente by air, we were aided in numerous ways
by Jorge V. Gortaire V., then a colonel and director of the Colegio Militar "Eloy Alfaro"
in Quito. Other kinds of help and guidance were provided by Enrique Martinez Q.,
manager of the Compania General de Comercio y Mandato in Quito, and his assistant
Francisco Punina Y. To these and other military and governmental officials whose names
escape us after a decade, we wish to express our appreciation for the many favors, large
and small, that we have not forgotten, and which helped to make our visit memorable
as well as scientifically fruitful.
Finally, we wish to record our indebtedness to the late Emilio Estrada, who while
teasing us for persisting in our "whim" to go to the Rio Napo, exercised his considerable
influence to help us secure the necessary permissions from military authorities. Although
his interventions were often unobtrusive, it is probable that they were instrumental in
making it possible for us to carry out the work described in the present report.
Other obligations have been incurred during efforts to work out the affiliations of
Rio Napo archeological complexes. Our ability to trace the downriver movement of the
Polychrome Horizon Style (fig. 68) stems from permission granted by the Ethnographical
Museum in Goteborg, Sweden, to take detailed notes and photographs during the summer
of 1960 of sherd samples collected in the 1920's by Curt Nimuendajii. This museum work
was supported financially by Grant No. 2664 from the Penrose Fund of the American
Philosophical Society. Peter Paul Hilbert, who is responsible for what little stratigraphic
information is available from the middle and upper Amazon, has again generously made
available unpublished data. Donald Lathrap, whose chronological sequence in eastern
Peru is one of the rare reliable reference points, has kindly allowed us to consult his un-
published doctoral dissertation at Harvard University, which supplements data secured
by examination of the collections from his 1956 fieldwork. We wish also to record our
appreciation to the American Museum of Natural History, the Museum of the American
Indian (Heye Foundation), the Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of Primitive Art, the
Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology (Harvard University), the Musee de
l'Homme (Paris), the Museu Paraense Emilio Goeldi (Belem), the Museu Paulista (Sao
Paulo), the Instituto Geografico e Historico do Amazonas (Manaus), the Museo Victor
Emilio Estrada (Guayaquil), the Museo Arqueologico del Banco Central del Ecuador
(Quito), and the Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana (Quito), all of which have granted us
permission to examine and photograph specimens or have provided us with photographs
for publication. Several Napo Phase anthropomorphic urns have passed into the hands of
private collectors, who have allowed us to include them in our illustrations. To Thomas P.
Flannery, Alan C. Lapiner, Jay C. Leff and Howard S. Strouth, we take this opportunity
to offer public thanks.
Carbon-14 dates have been furnished by the Smithsonian Institution and the Univer-
sity of Pennsylvania. We are indebted to the Creole Foundation for a grant to assist in
obtaining the first series of dates from the latter laboratory.
In conclusion, it is a pleasure to record once again our indebtedness to members of the
Smithsonian Office of Anthropology Processing Lab staff, especially Willie Mae Pelham
and Robert C. Jenkins, for their careful preparation of the sherd collections for study.
George Robert Lewis, scientific illustrator in the Smithsonian Office of Anthropology, has
produced his customarily excellent drawings from badly eroded pottery, poor illustrations
in published sources or photographs, as well as the maps and diagrams. We apologize for
delaying so many years to provide them with captions. The plates owe their clarity to the
high quality enlargements furnished by the staff of the Smithsonian Institution Museum
of Natural History Photo Lab. The manuscript was efficiently typed by Anne M. Lewis,
Smithsonian Office of Anthropology.
For scholars interested in consulting the illustrated material, some clarification of the
symbols and legends may be useful. All specimens not otherwise credited are in the United
States National Museum, where a large type collection of sherds has been deposited.
Specimens in other collections are so identified, and addition of the word "courtesy"
indicates that the photographs were supplied by the individual or institution named.
A key has been employed in figures showing rim profiles, permitting rapid recognition of
association between form and presence or absence of red slip or decoration, explained in
each caption. The relative frequency of rims, shown in black, white, or hachure, approxi-
mates the relative popularity of the form with each type of surface treatment.
December 13, 1966|
|Appears in Collections:||Smithsonian Contributions to Anthropology|
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