Sunday, 19 July 2020

The Malagana Treasure

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. Upon closer inspection he realized he’d found treasure, ancient gold. The artifacts were grave goods from burial tombs of a previously-unknown indigenous culture of Colombia.

His secret didn’t last long. Word spread like wildfire, and a looting frenzy began. Between October and December 1992, thousands descended upon Hacienda Malagana in what was called the “Malagana Gold Rush”.
Almost four tons of priceless 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. Researchers found that the habitation site dated to between 300 BC and 300 AD.

Jaguar lime flask, Calima Malagana, 200 BC.
Colombia's Museo del Oro, 'Museum of Gold' launched a campaign to locate and recover as many artifacts as possible that were stolen from the tombs of the main cemetery at Hacienda Malagana. Over 150 often stunning objects were eventually acquired.