Santa Elena Archaeological Site
The Santa Elena peninsula, which is located near Guayaquil in Ecuador, was originally known as Sumpa. It is home to the Santa Elena Archaeological Site, which is not only a historically interesting site but a wonderful attraction in Ecuador. Research and archaeological digs started in 1964, with more studies being funded in 1977. It was the 1977 excavation that revealed a pre-ceramic site which catapulted the Santa Elena Archaeological Site into the limelight. The discovery brought the sight media attention and highlighted the importance of archaeology.
Excavations revealed that this site once had homes and even a garbage dump. However the most important discovery was that of a cemetery. Archaeologists later uncovered the remains of two-hundred people. This is the most meticulously recorded and documented archaeological excavation site in the entire country. But it was not only these grave sites, which dated back to somewhere between 6 700 B.C. and 10 000 B.C., that captured international interest. The most remarkable discovery of all was that of the “Lovers of Sumpa”, or "los Amentes de Sumpa". This archeological find has inspired many sculptors, poets and musicians and captured the hearts and minds of many across the world. The “Lovers of Sumpa” has rekindled disappearing love and reminded everyone that has seen them that the intense love one person can have for another has existed since time immemorial.
The “Lovers of Sumpa” are the remains of a man and a woman that were found embracing each other. Speculation and the finding of stones in the skeletal remains, suggest that the two might have been stoned to death and buried. They are approximately 7 000 years old and are the Romeo and Juliet of Ecuador, having died in each others' arms. There are three burials that are on display, but these are protected by glass cases. The museum that was opened to the public in 1997 has photographs and artifacts that tell the story of the lives, work, rituals and culture of the inhabitants of this area. The museum has beautiful and vibrant exhibits that include walk-in environments and educational text which reveals the secrets and hidden treasures that this amazing attraction in Ecuador has brought to light.