Valdivia - History of Ecuador
Welcome to Study Guides!


stone carving of a human or bird, very abstract
Valdivian carving, ca. 3500-2000 BC

May 2016 - People probably first reached Ecuador by boat, about 13,000 BC, coming down the Pacific Coast from North America. They settled in river valleys along the coast, hunting and gathering their food both on land and by fishing in the ocean. They started farming about the same time as people in Asia and Africa. Around 8000 BC, they started farming squash, and by 7000 BC they were growing gourds to use as cups and maybe floats for fishing nets. By 6000 BC these people had also gotten corn from their neighbors in Mexico, and they buried their dead all together in two big cemeteries. About 5000 BC, they domesticated guinea pigs for their meat.

small sculpture of very pregnant woman
Valdivian pregnant woman
(Clay, ca. 2300 BC)

Around 4500 BC, these people left the area - nobody knows why - and then they came back about a thousand years later, about 3500 BC, just as the Norte Chico people were getting settled to their south. We call this second settlement the Valdivia culture. Like the Brazilian fishing people on the Atlantic coast, the Valdivia people used pottery, and like them, they lived partly from farming and partly from fishing. Like the earlier Ecuadorean people, they grew corn and squash, but the Valdivian people also grew chili peppers, beans, and cotton, which they used to make fishing nets and also clothing. Like the Norte Chico, they hung out in circular plazas.

Around 1800 BC, something bad seems to have happened along the Pacific coast of South America, because both the Valdivian and the Norte Chico people moved away from their homes.

Go on to the Olmec

Bibliography and further reading about the Moche:

Initial Period
South America after 1500 AD home

LIMITED TIME OFFER FOR TEACHERS: Using this article with your class? Show us your class page where you're using this article, and we'll send you a free subscription so all your students can use Study Guides with no distractions! (Not a teacher? Paid subscriptions are also available for just $16/year!)
Please help other teachers and students find us: link to this page from your class page.
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
Cite this page
  • Author: K.E. Carr
  • Title:
  • Site Name: Study Guides
  • Publisher:
  • Date Published:
Did you find what you needed? Ask your teacher to link to this page so other people can use it too! Send it in and win a "Great Page!" award!
Sign up for more free articles and special offers in' weekly newsletter:
We will never share your e-mail address unless you allow us to do so. View our privacy policy. Easy unsubscribe links are provided in every email.
Comment on This Article

Does your class page honor diversity, celebrate feminism, and support people of color, LBGTQ people, and people with disabilities? Let us know, and we'll send you a Diversity Banner you can proudly display!
Looking for more? is loading comments...
(Comments will appear after moderation, if they are kind and helpful. Feel free to ask questions, and we'll try to answer them.)
Cite this page
  • Carr, K.E. . Study Guides, . Web. 29 March, 2017