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

Clin Genet. 2006 Sep;70(3):188-91. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-0004.2006.00670.x.


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.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Colombia
  • Culture
  • Ecuador
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn / ethnology
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn / history*
  • History, Ancient
  • Humans