Supplementary information files, Food and Society at Real Alto, an Early Formative Community in Southwest Coastal Ecuador


LAA article abstract: We investigate foodways at Real Alto, an early Formative (4400 to 1800 BC) Valdivia site in coastal Ecuador, through starch and phytoliths recovered from 50 stone tools from three residential and two ceremonial structures, and from 46 human dentitions, and consider how food reflects social relationships and economy of the community. Maize was important in daily meals and ceremonial foods by Middle Valdivia (2800-2400 BC), but only one component of an agricultural system that included yuca, arrowroot, llerén, canna, yam, jackbean, squash, gourd, chili, and cotton. There were not different ceremonial and everyday foods at Real Alto: actions surrounding food were both domestic and ceremonial, depending on context. Households had equal access to annual crops and root-tubers with longer growing seasons. Gelatinized starch was commonly recovered on tools, indicating processing of cooked foods. Dental calculus residues confirmed the common consumption of cooked foods, fruits, and root-tubers. Cultivating crops with different water and growing season requirements necessitated diverse practices, potentially including selection of short-season varieties, hand-watering, and growing crops over multiple rainy seasons. The latter two required increased labor inputs: access to labor was likely a key element supporting a nascent social hierarchy that emerged by Middle Valdivia.

Supplementary information files: Supplementary Figures 1-6 (pdf files), Supplementary Tables 1-7 (.xls files)

Cite this Record

Supplementary information files, Food and Society at Real Alto, an Early Formative Community in Southwest Coastal Ecuador. ( tDAR id: 448921) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8448921

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contributor(s): Neil A. Duncan; Karol Chandler-Ezell; Douglas H. Ubelaker; James A. Zeidler

Project Director(s): Deborah M. Pearsall

Resources Inside this Project (Viewing 1-13 of 13)


  1. Real Alto Supplementary Figure 1: Structure 1 images (2019)
  2. Real Alto Supplementary Figure 2: Structure 10 images (2019)
  3. Real Alto Supplementary Figure 3: Structure 20 images tools (2019)
  4. Real Alto Supplementary Figure 4: Structure 20 images sediments (2019)
  5. Real Alto Supplementary Figure 5: Charnal House Mound images (2019)
  6. Real Alto Supplementary Figure 6: Dental Calculus images (2019)


  1. Real Alto Supplementary Table 1: Pearsall 1979 wood data (2019)
  2. Real Alto Supplementary Table 2: Structure 1 microfossil data (2019)
  3. Real Alto Supplementary Table 3: Structure 10 microfossil data (2019)
  4. Real Alto Supplementary Table 4: Structure 20 microfossil data (2019)
  5. Real Alto Supplementary Table 5: Charnal House Mound microfossil data (2019)
  6. Real Alto Supplementary Table 6: Dental Calculus microfossil data (2019)
  7. Real Alto Supplementary Table 7: Pearsall 1979 phytolith data (2019)