Zamora, Ecuador, Dec 13 (EFE).- The spirit of ancestors who lived about 9.000 years ago in the southern part of what is now Ecuador “comes alive” in an archaeological exhibition center that houses unique pieces of the Machinaza culture.
These artifacts were discovered in the last decade during the construction and operation of Fruta del Norte, the country’s largest gold mine.
The center, called Arutam Wakam (Spirit of our Ancestors in the Amazonian Shuar language), was inaugurated Tuesday in the town of El Padmi, in the province of Zamora Chinchipe, bordering Peru.
A small, air-conditioned building next to the road houses some of the artifacts uncovered during the mining company’s 10-year archaeological research program.
Among the finds are pottery, plant and food remains, monoliths, pieces of metal, lithic tools, and traces of metals such as gold, silver, and copper, providing evidence of human activity in the region as early as 7.000 B.C.
The center displays a variety of items, including ceramic vessels with different finishes for domestic and possibly ritual use, spinning tools indicating textile activities, a vessel with appliqués representing the hands and arms of a sloth, and an illustration of a tapir head on a carved stone.
34 square kilometer (21.1 square miles) search area
Funded by Lundin Gold, the Canadian mining company responsible for operating Fruta del Norte, the survey covered an area approximately 17 kilometers (10.5 miles) long and 2 (1.2 miles) kilometers wide, defined between the Machinaza and Zamora rivers around the mine in the rural community of Los Encuentros.
According to the research, the area was inhabited by aboriginal societies from the pre-ceramic Paleo-Indian period (7.000 B.C.) to the Integration period (1.500 A.D.), “before the Inca and Spanish conquests.”
María Cristina Acosta, Director of Environment and Permitting for Lundin Gold, explained that the study had the approval and technical control of the National Institute of Cultural Heritage and the technical work of the Archaeological and Cultural Research Company María Aguilera.
During a tour of the center, Acosta pointed out that the archaeological research progressed in parallel with the development of the mine.
The studies also revealed that the Machinaza culture had links with areas in the Andes, as the findings indicate an exchange of products.
The center Arutam Wakam managed and administered by the National University of Loja, displays 74 of the 437 pieces found to date, and involves professionals from various fields such as archaeologists, historians, anthropologists, geologists, conservators, designers, and engineers.
For Ron Hochstein, President and CEO of Lundin Gold, the Center is an opportunity to promote cultural tourism, understand the contributions of the Machinaza culture to history, and serve as an example of how private companies can work with the community and the state for the benefit of society.
A beacon for the future
Gabriela Cedillo, Director of the National Institute of Cultural Heritage, emphasized that the exhibition center is not only a testament to the past but also a “beacon that illuminates the path to the future.” She sees the center as a bridge connecting the past and present in a journey to understand, appreciate, and transmit knowledge.
During the inauguration, she emphasized that each piece and corner of the space speaks in a silent but eloquent language about the traces of those who came before us, celebrating not just the opening of a building but “the birth of a living space that breathes history.” EFE