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
The Guangalans • 200 BC--AD 600 • Western Coast of Ecuador (modern day El Azucar) • Thriving agricultural community
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?
Hypothesis • The Guangalans over-farmed the land, causing deforestation, forcing them to abandon the land for survival.
How to test the hypothesis? Charcoal Firewood Available Wood in Forest Relationship with Environment
Methods • Two Tools: • Dissecting Microscope • Scanning Electron Microscope Scanning Electron Microscope Two Tasks: Create charcoal reference library Identify archaeological samples Barbasco Dissecting Microscope Photo
Keystone Species • Barbasco • Cascol • Ebano • Guasango • Licuanco • Sapote There was dry tropical forest!
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
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)
Our Findings From Oldest To Most Recent
El Azucar Sites Guangalan Period
210 BC - AD 90 Archaeological Sample Barbasco Type Sample
AD 60 - 240 Mata Sarna Type Sample Archaeological Sample
AD 195 - 365 Archaeological Sample Ebano Type Sample
AD 290 - 450 Cascol Type Sample Archaeological Sample
AD 400-600 Archaeological Sample 100X Sapote Type Sample
Coastal Sites Post-Guangalan Period
AD 700 -900 Archaeological Sample Algarrobo Type Sample
In Summary Most Recent Oldest
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!
Issues • Assumptions made • Inconsistencies in results • Lack of optimal samples • Time consuming • Time constraint
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.
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?
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.