Chaupicruz

This culture inhabited the Quito plateau, in what is now the province of Pichincha. The first artefacts pertaining to this people were found at the Chaupicruz hacienda, which is how the culture received its name. Its geographical location was of strategic importance for the passage and exchange of goods between the Amazon, the highlands (Sierra) and the coast (Costa). Chaupicruz mainly exported obsidian and imported from the Sierra and the Amazon basin gold, gilded copper, emeralds, coca leaves and the feathers of exotic birds.

In social terms, this culture was made up of a group of chiefdoms. Graves buried 15 meters deep and structured as stone spirals have been found. The corpses excavated consist of adults and children buried in the same grave site, indicating that social status was hereditary rather than personally acquired. The funerary objects for “mindalaes” or traders were extremely elaborate, with clothing set with gold or mother-of-pearl, jewels mounted on metals, necklaces and emeralds, llipta recipients, feathers and bone spatulas.

Stone was of great importance to the Chaupicruz culture. They included anthropomorphic and zoomorphic representations in their pieces, using techniques such as lithic obsidian carving, negative painting, pedestal and ring ceramics, and decoration using geometrical lines.