Discover and Explore the Ancient Past of Chirije
Chirije ceremonial cup inside a Spondylus Shell found in a multiple burial site. This Red Thorny Oyster (Spondylus princeps) was one of the most sacred items of the pre-Incan cultures of the eastern equatorial Pacific.
Chirije (chee-ree-hey) is the newest and most attractive ecological and archaeological park along the Ecuadorian coast. Completed in 1996, Chirije is surrounded by 238 hectares of Dry Tropical Forest and miles of unspoiled beaches. This valley was the home of many consecutive pre-Columbian settlements.
Chirije is one of the many interesting archaeological sites of coastal Ecuador. The archaeologist Emilio Estrada discovered the site in the 1950s, and named a new culture called the Chirije Culture here. (Found in Arqueologia de Manabi Central, 1962). Chirije, an ancient seaport, was the site of the great settlement of the Bahia culture (500 B.C.- 500 A.D.). These seafaring merchants traded skillfully crafted ornaments or whole shells as far north as Mexico and as far south as Chile, for gold, copper and other precious items.
The following scientists have investigated on this site:
Archaeologist -Dr. Jean Francois Bouchard from the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique of France, also pre-Columbian art professor of the Musee de Louvre of Paris. 2003
Another famous scientist has been the Physical Anthropologist- Dr. Douglas Ubelaker, who is one of the foremost experts in the world on skeletal remains, Douglas Ubelaker, curator of physical anthropology at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., and former president of the American Board of Forensic Anthropology. He has also is one of the prime consultants of the FBI.
Archaeologists, MSc. Cesar Veintimilla, Lic. Fernando Mejia, Lic. Angelo Constantine and Javier Veliz A. as Ecuadorian Team in 1995.
Thanks to many other experts like Julio Viteri Gamboa, Jorge Marcos, John Staller, Jose Chancay, Felipe Cruz, in a list of many, who contributed to the investigations here in Chirije and that helped locate the missing pieces of the puzzle of the ancient past of the coast of Ecuador. On this site you can find many archaeological ceramic, stone, shell, and bone remnants of the Bahia, Jama Coaque, Chirije and Manteño cultures (500 B.C. to 1534 A.D.).
Many archaeological pieces have been found also in the dig inside the onsite museum. Come and explore the preincan cultures of Ecuador.
Chirije pre-Columbian Port
They were the most maritime of all cultures on the western coast of South America. They used the Ecuadorian Balsa and for thousands of years traded the mythical and sacred Red Thorny Oyster, the Spondylus shell. The most demanded shell of all the Pacific was this bivalve that existed mostly in Ecuadorian waters. The sailors traded this shell in their routes from the actual territory of Ecuador all the way up to the lands that comprise Mexico in the north and Chile to the south, for gold, turquoise, lapilazuli.
The first contact of one of these sailing vessels was made when Francisco Pizarros exploratory ships (Bartolomeo Ruiz was the captain) to the land of the gold, in 1526, and the design was drawn to the most perfect detail.
“This ship…seems to hold up to 30 tonnes, and the bottom is made of canes, as thick as posts. All tied up with rope made from something like hemp. And in the high parts, thinner canes, tied with this rope, where the people where in. All the items of trade were also on the higher part, because of it probably getting wet if it went on the bottom. There masts and antennas were made of very fine wood, and Sails as large as the ones we use on our ships. “
Samano Account, 1526 (The first manuscripts of Accounts of the Conquest led by Francisco Pizarro)
Balsawood vessel replica of first contact found in local Bahia de Caraquez museum.
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