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The Disappearance of the Ancient Guangalans

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  1. Boom and Bust The Disappearance of the Ancient Guangalans By Ashley Landesman, Emma Latham, Jackie Lin, Alexandra Mairone, Jinal Patel, Sophia Rowland, Kellie Swadba, Sophia Wu Advisor: Dr. Masucci Assistant: Tim McEvoy

  2. The Guangalans • 200 BC--AD 600 • Western Coast of Ecuador (modern day El Azucar) • Thriving agricultural community

  3. What happened? • After 800 years of prosperous farming, expansion, and a thriving civilization, the Guangalans disappeared. • Why did a civilization which had thrived for 800 years collapse?

  4. Hypothesis • The Guangalans over-farmed the land, causing deforestation, forcing them to abandon the land for survival.

  5. El Azucar


  6. Julio Moreno Dry Tropical Forest Reserve

  7. How to test the hypothesis? Charcoal Firewood Available Wood in Forest Relationship with Environment

  8. Methods • Two Tools: • Dissecting Microscope • Scanning Electron Microscope Scanning Electron Microscope Two Tasks: Create charcoal reference library Identify archaeological samples Barbasco Dissecting Microscope Photo

  9. CollectingTypeSamples

  10. Keystone Species • Barbasco • Cascol • Ebano • Guasango • Licuanco • Sapote There was dry tropical forest!

  11. Creating Reference Library • Charcoal analysis is a really new method • Had to make our own pictures of our type samples • 12 type species in total: • Barbasco • Cascol • Ebano • Guasango • Licuanco • Sapote • Algarrobo • Guachapeli Blanco • Guayacan • Mata Sarna • Morocho • Mullullu Cascol Tree

  12. What are we comparing? • Rays • Annual Rings • Pores or Resin Canals • Compactness of Cells • Cell Size • Other Distinct Features Guachapeli Blanco Dissecting Microscope Photo (Above) Mata Sarna Scanning Electron Microscope Photo (Below)

  13. Categorizing Archaeological Samples

  14. Our Findings From Oldest To Most Recent

  15. El Azucar Sites Guangalan Period

  16. 210 BC - AD 90 Archaeological Sample Barbasco Type Sample

  17. AD 60 - 240 Mata Sarna Type Sample Archaeological Sample

  18. AD 195 - 365 Archaeological Sample Ebano Type Sample

  19. AD 290 - 450 Cascol Type Sample Archaeological Sample

  20. AD 400-600 Archaeological Sample 100X Sapote Type Sample

  21. Coastal Sites Post-Guangalan Period

  22. AD 700 -900 Archaeological Sample Algarrobo Type Sample

  23. In Summary Most Recent Oldest

  24. What does this mean? • There was dry tropical forest during the time of the Guangalans • It is not evident that the Guangalans destroyed their environment • Algarrobo found in coastal sites suggests deforestation in the area after the Guangalans, but further research is necessary. • Charcoal analysis works!

  25. Issues • Assumptions made • Inconsistencies in results • Lack of optimal samples • Time consuming • Time constraint

  26. Conclusion • The goals of this project were to: • Identify wood charcoal used by the Ancient Guangalans • Test the effectiveness of this method in archaeological research. • Given more time, a larger sample size may be analyzed to properly represent the resource use of the Guangalans.

  27. Conclusions Continued • At the conclusion of this study, several unresolved questions remain. • Why exactly did the Guangalan civilization disappear? • What was the cause of the hypothesized climate change indicated by the presence of Algarrobo in later levels?

  28. Acknowledgements • Thank you Dr. Masucci for all your help in leading us through this research project and teaching us about what you're passionate for. • Thank you Tim McEvoy for keeping us focused and working hard and for buying us many meals. • Thank you Dr. Miyamoto for helping prepare our SEM specimens and for running this program. • Thank you John and Laura Overdeck and the other sponsors for your gracious contributions to keeping this program active.