Sites & cities that bear the name of Quito

Quito

Today in : Ecuador
First trace of activity : ca. 15th century B.C.E
Last trace of activity : today
Recorded names : Kitu, Saint Francis of Quito

Description : Quito (Quechua: Kitu; formally Saint Francis of Quito) is the capital of Ecuador, the country's most populous city and at an elevation of 2,850 metres (9,350 ft) above sea level, it is the second highest official capital city in the world, and the closest to the equator. It is located in the Guayllabamba river basin, on the eastern slopes of Pichincha, an active stratovolcano in the Andes Mountains. The oldest traces of human presence in Quito were excavated by American archaeologist Robert E. Bell in 1960, on the slopes of the Ilal├│ volcano, located between the eastern valleys of Los Chillos and Tumbaco. Hunter-gatherers left tools of obsidian glass, dated to 8000 BC. This archaeological site, called EI Inga, was brought to Robert Bell's attention by Allen Graffham. While employed as a geologist in Ecuador, Graffham pursued his amateur interest in archaeology. He made surface collections at the site during 1956. The discovery of projectile points, particularly specimens with basal fluting, stimulated his interest, and he made several visits to the site to collect surface materials. Graffham's previous interest in Paleo-Indian remains, and his experience with early man materials in Kansas and Nebraska in the Central Plains of the United States, led him to believe that the site was an important discovery. The second important vestige of human settlement was found in the current neighborhood of Cotocollao (1500 BC), northwest of Quito. The prehistoric village covered over 26 hectares in an area irrigated by many creeks. Near the ancient rectangular houses, there are burials with pottery and stone offerings. The Cotocollao people extracted and exported obsidian to the coastal region. Early colonial priests and historians wrote about the Quitu people and a Kingdom of Quito. Their accounts said that another people, known as the Cara or the Schyris, came from the coast and took over the region by AD 890. On what is sometimes called the Cara-Quitu kingdom, they ruled until the Inca took over the territory in the 15th century. Quitu descendants survived in the city even after the Spanish conquest. But by the 20th century, some prominent historians who began more academic studies, doubted accounts of the Quitu-Cara kingdom. Little archeological evidence had been found of any monuments or artifacts from it. They began to think it was a legendary account of pre-Hispanic man in the highlands. In the early 21st century, there were spectacular new finds of 20-meter deep tombs in the Florida neighborhood of Quito. Dating to AD 800 they provide evidence of the high quality of craftsmanship among the Quitu, and of the elaborate and complex character of their funerary rites. In 2010 the Museum of Florida opened to preserve some of the artifacts from the tombs and explain this complex culture.

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