Ceramic pots filled with emeralds found in a temple linked to El Dorado, a mythical city of gold

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Here, an ofrendatario found on the Muisca site. (Image credit: photo courtesy of Francisco Correa)

Colombian archaeologists have found eight ceramic pots, with metal figurines and emeralds inside, in a temple and its adjacent tombs.

The ancient Muisca (also called Chibcha) made the jars called “ofrendatarios” about 600 years ago. The Muisca, a people whose civilization flourished in the region at the time, were famous for their skills in metallurgy, and their work may have inspired the legend of Eldorado – a legendary city made of gold.

Between 1537 and 1540, the Spaniards conquered the region and many Muisca were killed in battle or due to disease. Despite the destruction, the Muisca persevered and thousands of their descendants still live today.

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A 3D scan of one of the metal figurines found inside an ofrendatario.  He has a human appearance.

A 3D scan of one of the metal figurines found inside an ofrendatario. He has a human appearance. (Image credit: courtesy of Francisco Correa)
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A 3D scan of another of the metal figurines found inside an ofrendatario.

A 3D scan of another of the metal figurines found inside an ofrendatario. (Image credit: courtesy of Francisco Correa)
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Various artifacts were also found during the excavation of the site.

Various artifacts were also found during the excavation of the site. (Image credit: courtesy of Francisco Correa)
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Emeralds have been found inside ofrendatarios.

Emeralds have been found inside ofrendatarios. (Image credit: photo courtesy of Francisco Correa)
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The interior of an ofrendatario found on the site.  Ancient Muisca placed metal figurines and emeralds inside.

The interior of an ofrendatario found on the site. Ancient Muisca placed metal figurines and emeralds inside. (Image credit: courtesy Francisco Correa)
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Here, an ofrendatario found on the Muisca site.

Here, an ofrendatario found on the Muisca site. (Image credit: courtesy of Francisco Correa)

Archaeologists discovered the temple and tombs in the remains of an ancient town of Muisca located near Bogotá, the current capital of Colombia. A team led by archaeologist Francisco Correa, an archaeologist who carries out excavations before construction work, found the ofrendatarios during excavations carried out before road construction in the area.

Some of the figures look like snakes and other animals, while others look more like people with headdresses, sticks, and weapons. The temple where the ofrendatarios were found can be linked to the cult of the ancestors.

“It’s very difficult to establish, I think there was some kind of ancestor worship,” Correa told Live Science. Offerings like these have been found at other ancient sites in Muisca and may have been some kind of offerings. They have artifacts inside which often include metallic figurines and emeralds.

The temple and ofrendatarios may also be related to deities worshiped by the Muisca, Correa said, noting that they worshiped a variety of gods, including those associated with the moon and the sun.

The Muisca were considered experts in the craft of metal. When the Spaniards encountered the Muisca, they were particularly astonished at their goldsmith’s work. There were no gold mines nearby, so the ancient Muisca traded for metal with other groups.

As to whether Muisca’s ironwork – especially their goldsmith’s work – inspired the legend of El Dorado, Correa said the group had a tradition that at certain ceremonies a chief would appear covered in an ointment containing ointments. gold particles. This ceremony “was one of the motivations behind this myth,” Correa said. The ceremony was attended by Spaniards and recorded in Spanish chronicles; the history as well as the goldsmith’s work of La Muisca have helped to inspire the legend.

Correa worked with the industrial engineering department at Museo Del Oro & Xavierian University to conduct the excavation. He also got help from Artec 3D, who supplied an Artec Eva scanner that he used to create 3D scans of the artifacts.

Originally posted on Live Science.


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