Colombia: Treasure Hunters Could Have Found “El Dorado”
SesquilÃ©| An American salvage company searching the bottom of Lake Guatavita in the Cordillera Oriental of the Colombian Andes, have discovered an impressive stash of Mesoamerican gold artefact. According to primary estimates, the treasure hoard could hold more than 25000 different golden artefact, totalling more than 1.8 metric tons of the precious metal, plus an impressive number of silver items and precious stones, for a total value of more than 1.2 billion USD.
Workers from Global Diving & Salvage, Inc. have been searching the bottom of Lake Guatavita since January 2014, looking for the treasure of the legendary “Lost City of Gold”, also known as ManÃµa, that is associated with the legend of the El Dorado. This legend is based on a chief of the Muisca native people of Colombia, who as an initiation rite, covered himself with gold dust and threw golden items in the water before diving into Lake Guatavita himself.
Discovered at a depth of slightly over 15 meters, the treasure was scattered around a large area, and was covered by a sedimentary layer of approximately 30 to 50 centimeters. Many pieces were detected from the surface using high quality metal detectors, which led the company to their begin their underwater operations in July. They rapidly started recovering a great quantity of statuettes, jewellery and religious items.
In the mythology of the Muisca, Mnya the Gold or golden color, represents the energy contained in the trinity of Chiminigagua, which constitutes the creative power of everything that exists. This quality gave the precious metal a great significance for the Muisca, not as a monetary unit but as a spiritual vehicle used to communicate with the gods. Many of the items were therefore created with no other purpose than being thrown in the lake as offerings to the gods.
Many searches had been done in the past in and around Lake Guatavita , and most had discovered small amounts of gold and silver, but never as important as this new find. Conquistadores LÃ¡zaro Fonte and HernÃ¡n Perez de Quesada attempted unsuccessfully to drain the lake in 1545 using a “bucket chain” of labourers. After 3 months of work, the water level had been reduced by 3 metres, and only a small amount of gold was recovered, with a value of 3000–4000 pesos (approximately worth 100,000$ today).
A later more industrious attempt was made in 1580, by BogotÃ¡ business entrepreneur Antonio de SepÃºlveda. A notch was cut deep into the rim of the lake, which managed to reduce the water level by 20 metres, before collapsing and killing many of the labourers. An important share of the findings, consisting of various golden ornaments, jewellery and armour, was sent to the King of Spain. SepÃºlveda’s discovery came to approximately 12,000 pesos (approximately 350000$).