Miniature art from prehistoric Ecuador
Prähistorische Spinnwirtel von Ekuador
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Among various remarkable kinds of pottery that archaelogists find in association with burials from prehistoric Ecuador are small bead-shaped spindle whorls (balance weights), 9 - 20 mm in size. We analyzed about 1000 spindle whorls decorated with often delicate zoomorphic and anthropomorphic designs from the Manteņo and Guangala cultures (ca. 500 B.C. - ca. 1500 A.C.), from Ecuador's central coast.

Animal pictures are naturalistic or highly stylized. Using comparative morphology methods we identified most of the stylized designs and could even trace the stepwise ornamentalization of naturalistic forms, here exemplified with the pelican motif.
© Seibt & Wickler

A few whorls display both the American Indian and the Asian method of burden carrying ("coolie yoke"), evidencing early trans-Pacific contacts.
© Seibt & Wickler
     Some whorls with anthropomorphic figures show scenes suggestive of a fertility cult.
© Seibt & Wickler

Wickler, Wolfgang & Seibt, Uta 1998: Kalenderwurm und Perlenpost. Biologen entschlüsseln ungeschriebene Botschaften. Spektrum Akademischer Verlag, Heidelberg, Berlin pp. 217

Wickler, Wolfgang & Seibt, Uta 1984: Formenreihen aus alter Zeit. Zoologische Arbeiten im Bereich der Archäologie. Mannheimer Forum (Boehringer Mannheim) 1984 173-235

Wickler, Wolfgang & Seibt, Uta 1982: Alt-Ekuadorianische Spinnwirtel und ihre Bildmotive. Beiträge zur allgemeinen und vergleichleichenden Archäologie 4, 315-419