• Environment and Geography

    The Guangala culture flourished in the territory of the modern-day Ecuadorian provinces of Manabí and Guayas, between the semi-arid coastal regions and the fertile valleys of the Colonche Mountains.

  • Economy

    The Guangala were primarily an agricultural people whose main crop was corn. They also fished, gathered shellfish, and hunted animals such as deer. Local chiefs ruled over semi-urban zones and placed great importance on trade, the redistribution of exotic goods, and the long-distance transport of foods such as dried fish.

  • Art

    The Guangala manufactured large quantities of stone tools (chisels, axes, scrapers, and hammers) that they used for woodcarving. They were also skilled in metallurgy, using a variety of techniques including panel beating, embossing, soldering, and casting. Copper fishhooks, needles, nosepieces, and small five-pointed stars with an unknown purpose are among the items that they made using these techniques. However, the Guangala’s most prevalent handicraft was ceramics. Their typical pieces were bright reddish-orange and black and were decorated primarily with geometric motifs and straight lines. The Guangala ceramic tradition also features the use of burnished lines on unpolished surfaces, and the use of appliqué to decorate the bases of vessels with caricature human faces, most of them with sad facial expressions. Although Guangala ceramic figurines are less numerous than those of other contemporary groups inhabiting territories to the north (the Bahía culture, for example), quite a few have been found. The style of these figurines ranges from highly realistic to completely stylized. Both male and female figures can be identified.

  • Social Organization

    It is not clear whether early Guangala society was egalitarian or had different social classes. In later times, elite sectors and authorities arose to govern central aspects of the group’s local economy and coordinate the trade in important goods such as obsidian, metals, and exotic stones.

  • Beliefs and Funerary Practices

    The Guangala buried their dead directly beneath their dwellings. Some of the caches of grave goods discovered include ceramic vessels, fishing net weights, stone axes, fishhooks, seashell pendants, shell boxes for keeping lime mineral, and musical instruments. Ceramic figurines are also frequently found, and appear to have had important ritual functions.

  • Settlement Pattern

    Guangala settlements slowly increased in size over the group’s history, as agriculture supported larger and larger populations. These culminated in semi-urban centers of considerable size. Their dwellings were likely built of cane and mud, with grass roofs.

  • History

    Many of the cultural characteristics of the Guangala people were inherited from the earlier Chorrera people.