Genetic and other diseases in the pottery of Tumaco-La Tolita culture in Colombia–Ecuador


Jaime E Bernal, Instituto de Genética Humana, Facultad de Medicina, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Cra 7 No. 40-62 Edificio 32, Bogotá, Colombia.
Tel.: 57 3208320x2794;
fax: 57 1 3208320x2793;


The people of Tumaco-La Tolita culture inhabited the borders of present-day Colombia and Ecuador. Already extinct by the time of the Spaniards arrival, they left a huge collection of pottery artifacts depicting everyday life; among these, disease representations were frequently crafted. In this article, we present the results of the personal examination of the largest collections of Tumaco-La Tolita pottery in Colombia and Ecuador; cases of Down syndrome, achondroplasia, mucopolysaccharidosis I H, mucopolysaccharidosis IV, a tumor of the face and a benign tumor in an old woman were found. We believe these to be among the earliest artistic representations of disease.