Lake Guatavita

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Laguna Guatavita
LagunaDeGuatavita.jpg
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Laguna Guatavita
Location Sesquilé, Cundinamarca
Coordinates 4°58′38″N73°46′32″W / 4.97722°N 73.77556°W / 4.97722; -73.77556 Coordinates: 4°58′38″N73°46′32″W / 4.97722°N 73.77556°W / 4.97722; -73.77556
Primary inflows Rain
Basin  countries Colombia
Max. length700 metres (2,300 ft)
Max. width700 metres (2,300 ft)
Surface area19.8 ha (49 acres)
Max. depth125 metres (410 ft)
Surface elevation3,000 m (9,800 ft)
References [1] [2] [3]
The zipa used to cover his body in gold dust, and from his raft, he offered treasures to the Guatavita goddess in the middle of the sacred lake. This Muisca tradition became the origin of the legend of El Dorado. Muisca raft in the Gold Museum, Bogota, Colombia Muisca raft Legend of El Dorado Offerings of gold.jpg
The zipa used to cover his body in gold dust, and from his raft, he offered treasures to the Guatavita goddess in the middle of the sacred lake. This Muisca tradition became the origin of the legend of El Dorado. Muisca raft in the Gold Museum, Bogotá, Colombia
Votive objects found at the bottom of Lake Guatavita in the British Museum. Lake Guatavita-BM.JPG
Votive objects found at the bottom of Lake Guatavita in the British Museum.

Lake Guatavita (Spanish: Laguna Guatavita) is located in the Cordillera Oriental of the Colombian Andes in the municipality of Sesquilé in the Almeidas Province, Cundinamarca department of Colombia, 57 km (35 mi) northeast of Bogotá, the capital of Colombia.

Contents

The lake is circular and has a surface area of 19.8 hectares. The earlier theories of the crater's origin being a meteorite impact, volcanic cinder, or limestone sinkhole are now discredited. The most likely explanation is that it resulted from the dissolution of underground salt deposits from an anticline, [3] resulting in a kind of sinkhole.

There are hot springs nearby in the municipality of Sesquilé, which means "hot water" in the now-extinct language of Chibcha, once spoken by the local indigenous people, the Muisca.

Spanish colonizers and Conquistadors knew about the existence of a sacred lake in the Eastern Ranges of the Andes possibly as early as 1531. The lake was associated with indigenous rituals involving gold. However, the first conquistador to arrive at the actual location was Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada, possibly in June 1537, while on an expedition to the highlands of the Eastern Ranges of the Andes in search of gold. This brought the Spanish into first contact with the Muisca inhabiting the Altiplano Cundiboyacense, including around Lake Guatavita.

The lake is now a focus of ecotourism, and its association with the legend of El Dorado is also a major attraction.

Etymology

The name of the lake is derived from Chibcha, the language of the Muisca: gwa: mountain or gwata, gwate: high elevation, or gwatibita: high mountain peak; hence, a pool at a high mountain peak. [5] Another meaning is "End of the farmfields". [6]

Muisca mythology

Lake Guatavita was reputedly one of the sacred lakes of the Muisca, and a ritual conducted there is widely thought to be the basis for the legend of El Dorado , "the golden one". The legend says the lake is where the Muisca celebrated a ritual in which the zipa (named "El Dorado" by the conquistadors) was covered in gold dust, and then, venturing out into the water on a ceremonial raft made of rushes, dove into the waters, washing off the gold. Afterward, trinkets, jewelry, and other precious offerings were thrown into the waters by worshipers. A few artifacts of gold and silver found at bottom hold proof to this claim; however, to date, attempts to drain the lake or salvage the gold (see Lake Guatavita gold) have yielded no more than these.

Trivia

See also

Related Research Articles

Muisca Ethnic group, Colombia

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Sesquilé Municipality and town in Cundinamarca, Colombia

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Zoratama

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Guatavita Municipality and town in Cundinamarca, Colombia

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Suesca Municipality and town in Cundinamarca, Colombia

Suesca is a town and municipality in the Almeidas Province, part of the department of Cundinamarca, Colombia. It is located on the Altiplano Cundiboyacense at 59 kilometres (37 mi) north from the capital Bogotá. Suesca forms the northern edge of the Bogotá savanna and is a scenic countryside town which is well known because its landscape attracts devotees of rock climbing, trekking, and rafting. It is surrounded by dairy farms and flower plantations. The municipality borders Cucunubá and Lenguazaque in the north, Sesquilé and Gachancipá in the south, Chocontá in the east and Nemocón in the west.

Bogotá savanna

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Bacatá Area on the Bogotá Savannah

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Muisca raft

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Siecha Lakes

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Women in Muisca society

This article describes the role of women in the society of the Muisca. The Muisca are the original inhabitants of the Altiplano Cundiboyacense before the Spanish conquest of the Muisca in the first half of the 16th century. Their society was one of the four great civilizations of the Americas.

Liborio Zerda

Liborio Zerda was a Colombian physician and Muisca scholar. Zerda has been important in the natural sciences of the late 19th and early 20th century in Colombia, publishing many articles about various topics, from medicine to chemical analysis, radioactivity and the popular drink chicha.

Muisca economy

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Lake Fúquene

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Spanish conquest of the Muisca Part of the Spanish conquest of Colombia

The Spanish conquest of the Muisca took place from 1537 to 1540. The Muisca were the inhabitants of the central Andean highlands of Colombia before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors. They were organised in a loose confederation of different rulers; the zipa of Bacatá, with his headquarters in Funza, the zaque of Boyacá, with his headquarters in Hunza, the iraca of the sacred City of the Sun Sugamuxi, the Tundama of Tundama, and several independent caciques. The leaders of the Confederation at the time of conquest were zipa Tisquesusa, zaque Quemuenchatocha, iraca Sugamuxi and Tundama in the northernmost portion of their territories. The Muisca were organised in small communities of circular enclosures, with a central square where the bohío of the cacique was located. They were called "Salt People" because of their extraction of salt in various locations throughout their territories, mainly in Zipaquirá, Nemocón, and Tausa. For the main part self-sufficient in their well-organised economy, the Muisca traded with the European conquistadors valuable products as gold, tumbaga, and emeralds with their neighbouring indigenous groups. In the Tenza Valley, to the east of the Altiplano Cundiboyacense where the majority of the Muisca lived, they extracted emeralds in Chivor and Somondoco. The economy of the Muisca was rooted in their agriculture with main products maize, yuca, potatoes, and various other cultivations elaborated on elevated fields. Agriculture had started around 3000 BCE on the Altiplano, following the preceramic Herrera Period and a long epoch of hunter-gatherers since the late Pleistocene. The earliest archaeological evidence of inhabitation in Colombia, and one of the oldest in South America, has been found in El Abra, dating to around 12,500 years BP.

Muisca warfare

This article describes the warfare of the Muisca. The Muisca inhabited the Tenza and Ubaque valleys and the Altiplano Cundiboyacense, the high plateau of the Colombian Eastern Ranges of the Andes in the time before the Spanish conquest. Their society was mainly egalitarian with little difference between the elite class (caciques) and the general people. The Muisca economy was based on agriculture and trading raw materials like cotton, coca, feathers, sea snails and gold with their neighbours. Called "Salt People", they extracted salt from brines in Zipaquirá, Nemocón and Tausa to use for their cuisine and as trading material.

Muisca art

This article describes the art produced by the Muisca. The Muisca established one of the four grand civilisations of the pre-Columbian Americas on the Altiplano Cundiboyacense in present-day central Colombia. Their various forms of art have been described in detail and include pottery, textiles, body art, hieroglyphs and rock art. While their architecture was modest compared to the Inca, Aztec and Maya civilisations, the Muisca are best known for their skilled goldworking. The Museo del Oro in the Colombian capital Bogotá houses the biggest collection of golden objects in the world, from various Colombian cultures including the Muisca.

The Cabildo Mayor del Pueblo Muisca is an organisation of indigenous people, in particular the Muisca. It was established in September 2002 in Bosa, Bogotá, Colombia. The organisation, member of National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC), focuses on defending the rights of the descendants of the Muisca, and the development of cultural and historical heritage, territory and health and the linguistics of the indigenous language, Muysccubun.

References

  1. (in Spanish) Google Maps Area Calculator
  2. (in Spanish) Google Maps Elevation Finder
  3. 1 2 Dietz ,R.S.; McHone, J.F. (1972). "Laguna Guatavita: Not Meteoritic, Probably Salt Collapse Crater". Meteoritics. 7 (3): 303. doi:10.1111/j.1945-5100.1972.tb00444.x.
  4. British Museum Collection
  5. M. Louis Ghisletti, Los Mwiskas, Bogota, 1954
  6. (in Spanish) Official website Guatavita Archived 2016-01-30 at the Wayback Machine