Dr. Sarah Rowe is a professor at the University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley who specializes in ancient Ecuadorian civilizations, researching who these ancient peoples were as well as their community structures. She has dedicated much of her research to the Valdivia culture and seeks to educate people on community relationships in the ancient Americas.

In this video, Dr. Rowe emphasizes that we cannot assume the Valdivia figurines in the George and Louise Patten collection of Salem Hyde papers and cultural artifacts have a fertility purpose, despite Western scholarship’s historic interpretation of artifacts depicting the female form as a symbol of fertility. She stresses that it is important to share more complicated stories about ancient peoples, especially the roles of women in these societies. Researching ancient civilizations and studying their community structures is essential for a more accurate understanding of material culture.

Four pre-Columbian ceramic figurine heads made from a red clay.