20225402(en)/5 - The Production and Utilization of Mother-of-Pearl Adornments at Las Orquídeas (800 - 400 Cal BC), Imbabura, Ecuador
THE PRODUCTION AND UTILIZATION OF MOTHER-OF-PEARL ADORNMENTS AT LAS ORQUÍDEAS (800 - 400 CAL BC), IMBABURA, ECUADOR
LA PRODUCCIÓN Y UTILIZACIÓN DE ADORNOS EN MADREPERLA EN LAS ORQUÍDEAS (800 - 400 CAL. AC), IMBABURA, ECUADOR
Of the variety of raw materials utilized by pre-Hispanic societies in Ecuador, mother-of-pearl (Pinctada mazatlanica and Pteria sterna) has not received much attention. The few existing studies have been undertaken on the coast and principally discuss how this raw material was used to fabricate fishhooks, with only a single example focused on adornments made from mother-of-pearl. This article presents the first detailed analysis of a collection of mother-of-pearl adornments recovered from the Ecuadorian sierra. Thanks to 276 m2 of excavations at the site of Las Orquídeas, more than 1,000 mother-of-pearl pieces have been documented that are related to an occupation dating to 800 - 400 cal BC. To study the use of mother-of-pearl at this site, this analysis adopts the chaîne opératoire perspective. The data presented demonstrate that raw material from the Pacific coast arrived on site in the form of complete valves. A comparison of the production waste and finished adornments suggests that only certain varieties of the mother-of-pearl adornments found were produced by the inhabitants of Las Orquídeas, with the rest probably being acquired via exchange.