The History of the Lost City: One place, many points of view

The Lost City is a single site, yet it has many ways of perceiving itself depending on what eyes it is seen through. We want to show you how this beautiful place has been conceived depending on the observer through time. We hope that this article will increase the value that this archaeological site, the Lost City, has for you.

The Lost City according to its builders

As the first inhabitants of this area spread to different parts of the Sierra Nevada their culture also developed. For example, the architecture of the Tayrona people is the result of centuries of adaptation to the different environments they inhabited, such as plains, valleys and mountains.

Spiritual indigenous leader home Lost City

The first constructions in this area date back to the 6th or 7th century BC so we can imagine the first builders raising the stone and earth platforms and building roads to connect each new village with another. For them, this site became their place of dwelling and doing their daily activities such as growing corn, avocado, cocoa, cotton, among others. Commercial exchanges with people who lived in other areas, pottery, gold work and hunting in the surroundings. The Lost City is a place with enough water, either from rain or from nearby rivers, and it is also very rich in biodiversity, surely for the inhabitants it was a very suitable place to live.

Over time, it may also have been seen as a refuge from colonization during the 16th and 17th century, to which unfortunately came diseases brought from the new world and for which the natives had no natural defenses. Epidemics could cause a social unstability in many villages and hence abandoned and the survivors spread to other areas. Although the latter is only a hypothesis that can be taken into account since the abandonment of indigenous villages was common during the conquest due to epidemics.

From this moment the site remained uninhabited until its discovery in the 70s of the 20th century.

The Lost City according to its discoverers

Broken clay pot
Methods of looting archaeological artefacts involve the destruction of their containers, such as this clay pot

Unfortunately, those who discovered the site were ‘guaqueros’ (grave robbers and traders in archaeological objects). For them, it was the equivalent of discovering a gold mine.

Soon, those who had discovered the Lost City began to attract the attention of other guaqueros, who also found the place. By then, a dispute broke out to control the area, so Ciudad Perdida was seen as the originator of a bitter confrontation, which gave it the name Infierno Verde or “Green Hell”. 

Many archaeological pieces began to flood the market and the looting that was taking place became noticeable. In addition, one of the original discoverers of the Lost City informed the authorities in Bogotá about the site and what was happening. From then on, efforts would be made to protect the site and make it an object of study.

The Lost City according to archaeologists

To discover this archaeological site officially, a commission was created to study it. The Buritaca river valley also had other sites that were numbered as they were located, so for the archaeological record, what is now popularly known as the Lost City, was called Buritaca 200. For the archaeologists, Buritaca 200 was a great opportunity to learn more about the culture that had inhabited the area. However, even though the ruins had resisted the passage of time, they required restoration. These works, both the arrival of the first commission to the site, and its study and restoration were done with the help of guaqueros and locals who knew the area and the ruins very well.

The Lost City according to actual indigenous tribes

Frog carved on stone
For the indigenous tribes, objects as this frog of stone are offerings Tayrona made many years ago and must be kept where they buried them. They help to keep the balance of the earth.

The indigenous people claim that they have always known about the existence of the Lost City, in fact they say that in their oral tradition there is a story about the site. From a scientific point of view, the archaeological evidence shows that the site was totally unknown to anyone for approximately 400 years.

In any case, today Ciudad Perdida is a sacred place for the indigenous tribes that inhabit the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, it is a point where they make offerings to the gods or guardian spirits to maintain the balance of the Sierra Nevada and therefore of the cosmos. For them Ciudad Perdida is called Teyuna in honor of a mythical hero who gave birth to the fathers of the natural elements.

The Lost City according to the rest of the world

The restoration and study works were from 1976 to 1986 when it opened its doors to the public. Since then it began to position itself as a tourist destination of worldwide interest. So the famous trek to Ciudad Perdida became for many another item on their bucket list or a challenge to be faced.

After doing the trek for many it becomes their highlight of their trip to Colombia, a lifechanging experience or a dream come true.

So now the question is…

What will the experience of the trek to Ciudad Perdida be like for you?

We cannot write for you what the trek to Ciudad Perdida will mean to you, so connect with a place that has been conceived in so many ways through time and discover the treasures it has for you! Write your own story!

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Ivan

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