Economy based on fishing, cultivating fruit trees, and hunting. Settlements associated with mangroves. Emphasis on the elaboration of anthropomorphic and zoomorphic figurines.

Tumaco Goldworking

Elaboration of fine, pure gold, gold wires.


Construction of mounds for dwellings, exploitation of maritime resources, and agriculture. Trade with societies from the Andean region. Less emphasis on the elaboration of figurines.

Tumaco-Bucheli Goldworking

Alloys of gold, copper, and platinum. Simple nose rings are the most common objects.

The region encompassing the Pacific shore of the Department of Nariño and the strip of coast belonging to northern Ecuador comprises an area which archaeologists have denominated “Tumaco La Tolita”. It is an area that has been relatively densely populated since the 5th or 6th century B.C.; the earliest period is referred to as Inguapi. This era corresponds to societies whose ceramic pieces are distinguished by their zoomorphic and anthropomorphic figurines adorned with red paint or finely incised line decoration, features which point to similarities with later phases of the period that mark the beginning of agriculture and pottery in Ecuador.

The first occupants of the region thrived on fishing, gathering crabs and only secondarily from gathering mollusks, harvesting fruits and hunting. Their settlements were oriented toward dominating the abundant mangroves of the region and did not alter the landscape in any appreciable way. Later, during the period known as Bucheli, the population would modify its ceramic practices placing less emphasis on the elaboration of figurines and the use of paint. During the last phases of this population, the Indians of the Tumaco region built mounds over which they erected their dwellings. Little is known about their economy. Some data suggest that when the Spaniards arrived the political organization of the people of the region was not as complex as that of their neighbors in the Andean zone. An. important part of their economic activities was directed toward supplying the population of the highlands with salt, mollusks, and seashells, products which they bartered for manufactured goods.

Tumaco goldwork development followed along lines similar to those of Calima and was very much in keeping with the socio-economic processes that fostered it. Int guapi, 5th century B.C. production is associated with fine gold wires, produced by cold hammering. Other dates associated with metallic objects are: 90 A.D. a date R obtained from objects found at the Coche site near the .Santiago River (La Tolita); 875 A.D. which corresponds to tumbaga objects found alongside Bucheli ceramic f, pieces. These dates permit archaeologists to suppose that in Tumaco the techniques used to produce complex alloys came after the utilization of hammering techniques. The finely wrought Inguapi wires contain 85.9% gold and 10.3% silver, a composition that all but duplicates local alluvial gold. Later pieces were cast from alloys of gold and copper or gold and platinum.