During an excavation in Ecuador, a team of international archaeologists discovered 6,000-year-old pottery that dates as far back as 4640 BC. What’s even more mysterious about the find is that it belonged to an unknown culture. In fact, this unknown culture is believed to have possibly lived alongside one of America’s oldest civilizations.
At the site known as Real Alto, which is located on the Pacific coast of the country, the fragments of ceramic vessels that the archaeologists found were between 75 cm and 1 meter deep underground. After radiocarbon analysis was performed on the pottery, it was concluded that they date back to between 4640 and 4460 BC, which was around the same time that the first stages of the Valdivia culture existed.
There is one problem, though, as the more than 40 pieces of pottery that were unearthed (they’re referred to as the “San Pedro” pottery) are different than the items previously discovered from the Valdivian culture, specifically in how the pieces were decorated. While the pottery does have some similarities to the Valdivian culture, there were also quite a few differences which suggest that they came from another pottery-producing culture that existed around the same time period.
“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 of the study wrote. Their findings can be read in the journal Antiquity.
There were other similar pieces to the San Pedro pottery that were discovered in the 1970s and 1980s during archaeological excavations, but none of them seem to belong to any specific culture. “It is curious that, despite the different vectors of human development, in the technological sense we were moving in the same direction,” stated Alexander Popov who is head of the Russian archaeological expedition to Ecuador.
Researchers hope to find more items belonging to the unknown culture in order to find out more about them, such as the conditions in which the culture developed. Since this mysterious culture was previously unknown, this is a very exciting discovery and hopefully they’ll be able to find out more about them. A photo of the pottery that was discovered can be seen here.