The Peace of God to all that belong to the Lightness
In 1945 an extraordinary archaeological finding was reported first time internationally coming from the South Central Colombian Andes. This is the
highest expression of the Cauca Civilization, already known culture among the many that ranked really high in Goldsmith work and metallurgy from this
Andean massif called "inland" by the Spaniards.
The tombs were created around 700 A.D. and rediscovered and excavated professionally since 1930 by different archaeologists, many of them without
really official support in a kind of private exploratory adventures sponsored by Universities.
It is known that the sites were abandoned before the 13Th century AD and modern occupation gradually uncovered the tombs, many of which were opened
and looted during the 18th and 19th centuries, by tomb thieves still moved by the El Dorado gold fever, looking for burial gold objects, the so
called "guaqueros" as they are named in Colombia.
This was the trend on the four first decades of exploratory work. Official government support came after 1945 and until 1995, long time before
Unesco decided to put the site under their protection.
Underground tombs with side chambers have been found over the whole of America, from Mexico to north-western Argentina, but their largest
concentration is in Colombia. However, it is not only the number and concentration of these tombs at Tierradentro that is unique but also their
structural and internal features.
The finding was the largest set of underground funerary galleries comprising hundreds of tombs, ever found in the Americas. It is located close to the
town of Inza, 100 km away from the capital of the Department, Popayán.
The galleries are called pre-Columbian hypogea, which were grouped in several archeological clusters, the most important of which are : Alto del
Aguacate (Avocado Hill), Alto de San Andrés, Alto de Segovia, Alto del Duende and El Tablón.
The place represents the most important Prehispanic burial complex of the Andes, as large as their Old continent counterpart, Valley of the Kings in
Egypt. It was declared in 2012 Unesco Cultural Patrimony of Humanity
The typical hypogeum has an entry oriented towards the west, a spiral staircase and a main chamber, usually 5 to 8 meters below the surface, with
several lesser chambers around, each one containing a corpse.
The walls are painted with geometric, anthropomorphic and zoomorphic patterns in red, black and white. Some statues and remains of pottery and fabrics
can be seen scarcely due to grave robbery before the hypogea were constituted as protected areas.
Measuring up to 12 m wide and 7 m deep, they were made from 600 to 900 AD. The degree of complexity achieved by the architecture of these tombs with
chambers that resemble the interior of large houses is evident in the admirable carving in tuff of the stairs that give access to a lobby and the
chamber, as well as in the skillful placement of core and perimeter columns that required very careful planning.
They are decorated with poly-chrome murals with designs in red and black paint on a white background, and sometimes even with elaborate
The smaller hypogea vary from 2.5 m to 7 m in depth, with oval floors 2.5-3 m wide, while the chambers of the largest examples may be 10-12 m wide.
Most impressive of the latter are those with two or three free-standing central columns and several decorated pilasters along the walls with niches
The primary or individual burial took place in shallow shaft graves with a small lateral chamber. The deceased was buried with ceramic items, bead
necklaces, grinding stones, and stone grinding pestles, and was separated from the shaft by slabs that covered the entrance to the chamber. This first
burial did not last long. The remains were soon taken out and carried someplace else.
The secondary or collective burial consisted of placing the remains of rulers and priests in a ceramic urn with no cover and then in a deeper grave
The pre-Colombian civilization who created the burial chambers it is believed it was the Cauca one, the same one that has manufactured some of the
finest Gold objects ever in South America.
Cauca civlization is also in extraordinary case in Andean Colombia, as well as in all region in between Mesoamerica and Peru, since it is one that
has built ceremonial sites in mounds or pyramids.
Two of them are extremely related with the builders of the hypogea galleries:
1) El Morro del Tulcan (Tulcan Nose) a large mound built in the suburbs of Popayan, a Colonial large city that has been declared also Unesco Cultural
Patrimony of humanity,
2) The enigmatic ceremonial site of the step pyramid of Inza, with ladders in all its sides, at Tierradentro.
The Colombian archelogist Elias Sevilla-Casas is one of the important researchers that are trying to decipher the past of the Cauca Civilization of
Tierrandentro, in the tradition of Chamanic influences present on the site traced backward to the first studies by the Austrian-Hungarian
Archaelogist Gerardo Riechel-Dolmatoff.
and Chamanism by Gerardo Riechel-Dolmatoff
Thanks for your attention,
The Angel of Lightness
edit on 11/25/2016 by The angel of light because: (no reason given)