History Before the Pululahua Volcano Eruption
In Ecuador the oldest archaeological findings belong to the period paleoindio some 13000 years ago, these remains were found in the mountain region of Inga, approximately 60 km southwest of Pululahua. The next oldest traces were found in the Parish of Cotocollao, 10 km south Pululahua. These archaeological remains indicate that the culture Cotocollao settled about 4000 years ago (1500 BC) in the formative period, and disappeared also after the eruption of the Pululahua Volcano. The Cotocollao culture was influenced by the Chorrera and Machalilla cultures with which maintained relations. This relationship is explained by the presence of another culture (Yumbos) whose development center was found recently in the archaeological remains at Tulipe, 60 km southeast of Pululahua. The Tulipe archaeological remains corresponded to the same formative period starting 1500 BC or 4000 years ago, the same time as the Cotocollao culture. The Yumbos, also known as the Caras, Yumbos Colorados, or Yumbos, had as their main activity trade between the coast and the mountains. This is evidenced by the presence of obsidian, crystal gray characteristic of the highlands, which was found on the coast, and in the same way, the shell espondylus that appears in the high mountains. The Yumbos were characterized as peaceful and communicative people, no traces of weapons or wars have been found in the areas of their development. The Yumbos were responsible for establishing trade between the mountains and the coast; they developed a large network of roads (Yumbo Trails) which began in the area northeast of Quito, some starting near Pululahua, reaching the area Tulipe, and finally descending to the coastal areas of Ecuador. These Yumbo trails are also known as Culuncos. Their main characteristic is a narrow and deep path developed from years of use and erosion, descending towards the coast. These trails go underneath the forest canopy making the journey more fresh and away from the sun. These trails developed by the Yumbos more than one thousand years ago, were later used by the Incas some five hundred years ago, the Spanish conquistadors four hundred and fifty years ago, by liquor smugglers who traveled with mules packed full of pure cane-liquor to Quito some hundred years ago, and lately used by the locals who live inside the cloud forest, and by tourist who venture into these lands.
These ancient roads reach Santo Domingo de los Colorados, where the Yumbos had a very important settlement which has maintained its identity until this day. These ancient descendants of the Yumbos are known today as the Schachilas (Yumbos Colorados).
THE EFFECTS OF PULULAHUA VOLCANO
The great eruption of the Pululahua volcano 2300-2500 years ago caused serious havoc and ended with the development of many cultures in the area. It is believed that the survivors of the Cotocollao culture, if any, migrated to seek food and shelter. The same happened with Yumbos and there is evidence that the end of the cultures Chorera, Valdivia, and Machallila was caused by the large amount of ash that was deposited across the coast of Ecuador. This concept is clearly represented in the Museum of the Central Bank of Ecuador in Caraquez Bay, where a wall representing the different geological layers, clearly shows that the Chorrera archeological rests are found underneath a heavy layer of ash from the Pululahua volcano. This ash put an end to its great cultural development.
HISTORY AFTER THE ERUPTION
As the years passed, the harmful effects of the eruption disappeared and the survivors migrated back and continue the development that was cut short. In the area of Tulipe, development started for the second time in the year 800 AD, and continued until 1690 A.D. It is interrupted again by the eruption of Pichincha. Later their culture was also shaken by the arrival of the Incas in the year 1400. The presence of the Incas did not change the Yumbo culture, because they had their own system of political and economic organization. It was a village of merchants with wide range of products such as coca, hot peppers, bird feathers, salt, shells, and crystals. The Yumbos quickly learned the conquering language, products and needs, thus becoming a trading partner with the Incas. Later, the Spaniards also met the Yumbos and even used their paths to reach Esmeraldas and Manabi.
The Incas were also attracted to the vicinity of the volcano Pululahua and they built fortresses known as “pucaraes”. According to archaeologists who have studied this area north and northwest of Quito, these fortresses were also temples and ceremonial center for the sun. The most commonly known archaeological site of this type is Rumicucho Temple. The Incas celebrated the beginning of a new agricultural year during the solstice in Rumicucho. This celebration is still carried until today; it is the famous Inty-Raymi festival of June 21. Our indigenous people that lived in this area had also studied the sun and knew precisely the different dates for the solstices and equinoxes. As proof of their accurate knowledge, they built a temple in Catequilla Mountain, exactly where the equatorial line divided the north and the south hemisphere. Their temple is more accurate than the site marked by the French Geodesical Mission. The Catequilla site was probably built 500 years before the French arrived to Ecuador, and therefore it should be a sacred site, built by our (Ecuadorian) ancestors, representing the true understanding of the sun and itīs relations to the earth. Instead it is today a controversial site where the archeologists question its importance but refuse to study the site. Also the local government question its importance since it competes with the popular Mitad del Mundo which is a tourist attraction that benefit their income. The Catequilla Mountain has been studied by Cristobal Cobo who is not an archeologist and therefore questioned by jealous archeologists who have ignored this site. Cristobal has formed a self sustained organization called Quitsato, to study and uncover the true meaning of Catequilla, and to uplift the value of our culture and ancestors. Please help their cause by visiting their local museums where you can learn much more about their findings. The first and oldest museum is to the right (north) side of the Mitad del Mundo, outside of the main park area. It is a small museum about 200 ft north of the park entrance, set at the entrance of the Equinoccio Restaurant. Their second museum is in Cayambe where a brand new Solar Clock is the center stage of the presentation.
Pululahua is surrounded by a lot of culture and history from the Caras, Yumbos, Incas, and Spanish. There are several close fortreses (pucares) such as: Rumicucho, Portalanza, Trigoloma. Also there are some stone platforms that we probably used for measuring the exact date and angles of the sun from the solstice to the equinox and vice versa. There are pyramids probably used as observatories in the hills of Alance, Pambamarca, and Cochasqui. These pyramids were other ceremonial centers of unknown use. Tulipe is the cultural center of the Yumbos which has been uncovered in the last years. Today there is a brand new very interesting museum protecting the entire site and attempting to describe the Yumbo culture. The Spanish built many haciendas surrounding Pululahua to apparently exploit the archeological richness of this zone. Most of these farms are within 10 km radius, but many of them are in process of decay. The Pululahua farm was controlled by the Dominican Order, the Niebli farms was operated by the Jesuits, the Caspigasi farm belonged to the Carmelitaīs Nuns, the Tanlagua farm was in control of the Jesuits. Other farms such as Portalanza, and Calacali are witnesses of the Spanish occupation run by different religious orders of the Spanish crown. The heavy presence of the Spanish in this are makes us conclude that Pululahua and its surroundings existed great wealth in the indigenous people that was conquered during the Spanish occupation.