By Dr. Sarah Rowe
I’ve been working with community members in Dos Mangas since 2006. The community has steadily built an audience for ecotourism through careful management of their forest resources and investments in village infrastructure. Critical to these activities are the guias nativas, or local community guides. These are individuals who grew up farming land adjacent to the village and hunting in the local hills. They have intimate knowledge of the local resources and landscape features and are a wealth of information.
My first partnerships in Dos Mangas were with community guides, and they have been an integral part of the research project ever since. Some work with us as field assistants, helping us identify sites and excavating at Buen Suceso. We also work together to share information about the archaeological investigations with community members and visitors.
As archaeologists we spend a lot of our time in the field counting and measuring – how many centimeters deep is that excavation unit? How many pieces of pottery came out of a level? One of the hardest things to quantify from archaeological fieldwork are the connections we make, both to the other members of our team and the community we work in. Those are the things that stick with you, even years down the road.
Last year we arranged a series of workshops with the community guides to discuss the goals of archaeology, the prehispanic cultures of coastal Ecuador, and our current interpretations of the Buen Suceso site. We’re also designing a museum for the village that can present information about the local archaeology and also serve as a community gathering place. Though still in the very early planning stages, our goal is that by working with the community we will be able to develop a space that will be integrated into community life and filled with content that is of interest to villagers and tourists alike.
I hope you’ll join us this summer as we continue our work with Dos Mangas and learn more about Buen Suceso!