Archaeological Sites

Overview

Introduction

Ecuador has several ruins left by the Incas or other Amerindians. The principal Inca site is Ingapirca. Others include Rumicucho, near Quito; La Tolita, near Esmeraldas; and Tomebamba in Cuenca (most of the ruins in this old provincial capital have been built over, but some can be seen at Avenida Todos Santos).

The ancient Valdivia culture (dating from 3200 BC) left remains at Real Alto, San Isidro (excavated mounds) and Santa Elena—all of which are located in the coastal area northwest of Guayaquil.

Santa Elena is notable for having the world's oldest known cemetery (dating from 5000 BC). Inside Machalilla National Park is the Agua Blanca site. (Artifacts from most of these places are best seen in museums in Guayaquil and Quito, with the exception of Ingapirca.) Chirije, at Bahia de Caraquez, is only partly excavated and viewable at low tide. Cochasqui, 40 mi/65 km north of Quito, has 15 grass-covered pyramids. Recently uncovered archaeological remains in Llanganates National Park, 20 mi/32 km from Banos, are only beginning to be investigated, but some believe they may hold the mausoleum of Atahualpa, the last Inca emperor.

Ecuador's sites, however, are less impressive than those in Peru (few have standing walls).

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