“Stellar Map” on Valdivia culture tablet
Rectangular limestone tablet having a hole pattern contained in three vertical registers divided by thin perpendicular grooves. The central register differs from that of the left and right margin because it has four vertical lines of holes. Two rows of holes in a horizontal position are engraved on the upper and lower ends _ Size: 28 cm x 7 cm _ Material: limestone light gray _ 2300-2000 BC _ Place of discovery: Ecuador _ Provenance: Private collection of New York.
An example of the very first form of primitive art performed on limestone by one of the oldest civilizations that settled in the Americas. Given the limited amount of similar archaeological finds, the real function of stone objects decorated in this manner has not yet been established, still remaining an unknown detail. Despite this they are commonly referred to as “Star Maps”. Some scholars hypothesize that they represented an ancient form of writing, contemporary with the cuneiform characters of the Sumerians and the Egyptian hieroglyphs. Others believe that it was an ancient instrument of calculation, others still believe that tablets of this type were maps that indicated the position of celestial bodies. The Culture of Valdivia is one of the oldest local cultures attested in the American continent; it developed between 3500 and 1800 a. C. in the west coast of Ecuador. The Valdivia lived in small communities that developed in a circular way around a square; they were mainly fishermen, moreover they practiced hunting and breeding in order to integrate their diet. They experimented in the artisanal production of stone objects and are said to have been among the first populations in the world to produce ceramic products.