The Manteña culture extended along the length of Ecuador’s coast, both on beaches and on hills from the Bay of Caráquez in Manabí province to Puna Island in the province of Guayas. They settled near beaches, estuaries and mangrove swamps that provided fresh water and also served as communication channels.
They made technological advances in agriculture through the use of hillside terraces. They planted crops such as corn, manioc, tobacco, cocoa and cotton. They were vigorous seagoing traders, reaching as far as the coasts of Central America on trading voyages. There is evidence that their social organization took the shape of small chiefdoms that served as ports and centers of commerce and had a well-defined economic and social organization.
In the northern region they were characterized for using stone to make artistic chairs or thrones that were symbols of power. In the southern region they produced ceramic urns for funerary rites. Their pottery is of a characteristic grayish-black color, obtained through the reduction-firing method. This technique made it possible to control the entry of oxygen during the firing process, which produced an incomplete combustion that created smoked tones in their pottery.