|In 1992 a sugarcane farm employee was working the fields at the Hacienda Malagana located in Colombia‘s Cauca Valley. The ground gave way, and both man and machine tumbled into the hole. The worker noticed shiny, golden objects in the dirt.|
It was gold and he realized he’d found treasure, ancient gold artifacts from burial tombs of a previously-unknown indigenous culture of Colombia.
Jaguar lime flask with nose ornament, Calima Malagana, 200 BC
|His secret didn’t last long. Word spread like wildfire, and a looting frenzy began. Between October and December 1992, approximately 5000 people are said to have descended upon Hacienda Malagana in what was called the “Malagana Gold Rush”. |
Almost four tons of pre-Columbian artifacts were removed from the site to be melted down or sold to collectors in what was described as the “grandest haul since the Conquistadores.”
|By 1994 the treasure hunters had given up as the cemetery site had been destroyed, and archaeologists were finally able to learn more about the mysterious culture. Research indicated that the habitation site dated to between 300 BC and 300 AD.