After all it may not have been a place, but a personIt all started when the Spaniards invaded the Empire of the incas, in the Peru in 1532 and discovered a lavish accumulation of gold that included many and beautiful works of art.
In Cuzco, the walls of the Temple of the emperor were plated in gold, and even pipes leading water were made of the precious metal. The myths and legends surrounding El Dorado were many and varied: some claimed that it was a lost city; others, who was a temple filled with treasure, hidden deep in the jungle; There were even those who claimed that El Dorado was a mountain of solid gold. One of the theories that currently enjoy greater acceptance, however, holds that El Dorado was a person: probably the chibcha (or muisca) village chief.
El Dorado received this name due to the chibcha ceremony pointing or Ascension to the throne. The Rite began when the people gathered on the banks of the Lake of Guatavita, form circular and surrounded by high mountains; the celebrations lasted several days; in the climax, the head which amounted to gold, surrounded by their priests, embarked on a raft of reeds, which was driven to the center of the Lake. Once the raft was in the middle of the Lake, the chibcha new head was stripped and all its horn was with gold dust.
Lake would have been identified as the Guatavita Lake, a deep crater filled with water and surrounded by dense jungle. In 1580, a merchant in the newly founded city of Bogota, would have tried to drain the Lake by building a channel with labor of hundreds of indigenous slave. The attempt failed when collapsing the channel and cost the lives of hundreds of workers.
The example of the head was then followed by the people gathered on the banks; each brought their tribute, throwing gold objects into the water. This is how the bottom of the Lake Guatavita came to contain one of the richest collections of objects of the new world gold. Interestingly, the chibcha village, the village of El Dorado, had no own gold deposits.
When the expedition returned to Venezuela with 300 of its members had perished; by an irony of fate, the expedition members had been only 100 kilometers from the Lake of gold. The following year, the formidable Spanish conqueror Benalcázar Sebastián also departed in search of the Lake; a few months later, a German adventurer, Nicholaus Federmann, embarked on the same mission.
He led his men to a region rich in salt and I took a series of populations chibcha. An Indian said to Jiménez de Quesada «the place of gold"in the village of Hunsa. The Conqueror seized the town and discovered that the houses chibcha, constructed of wood and wicker, had numerous plates of gold. He also discovered large piles of emeralds and sacks containing gold dust.
To plunder the House of the Chief of the population, they found that it was lined with sheets of solid gold and that it contained a fabulous throne made of gold and emeralds. Jiménez de Quesada continued his search of El Dorado and finally met with Benalcazar and Federmann in the central region of Colombia; There they founded the city of Santa Fe de Bogotá. Lucky fortune hunters played an ironic trick: they came to the Lake of gold, but they found no El Dorado.
Simply because El Dorado no longer existed, the chibcha heads dynasty that held the ceremony of gold in the raft speaks been overthrown after a hard fought by the power a few years earlier.
In 1545, the brother of Jimenez of Quesada, Hernan, made a strong bid to seize the treasures contained in the Lake Guatavita. This operation was conducted for three months and the Lake levels dropped 2.70 meters; hundreds of gold objects were uncovered with the decline in the waters near the edge of the Lake, before the attempt was abandoned.
A Spanish merchant recruited an army of 8,000 indigenous and launched them to build a deep channel, to drain the Guatavita. The attempt was more successful than the Hernán Jiménez de Quesada: water levels dropped 18 meters.
The dealer could seize numerous objects of gold and valuable emeralds; but finally the landslides obstructed drainage channel and also this project had to be abandoned. However, the fabulous riches of El Dorado continue to attract adventurers. Therefore, the spirit of El Dorado is still alive, as live remains the mystery of his fabulous treasure.
Expansion of the theme
The treasure of the Lake GuatavitaThe ceremony of El Dorado was the origin of the legend. Although the conquistadors had already wrested from the muisca and its neighbouring hundreds of Kg of gold, imagined that still had the greatest spoils: the immense treasure that should exist at the bottom of the Lake Guatavita.
The first step to dredge the Lake was given in 1545, but the most serious of the early initiatives was a merchant in Bogota, Antonio de Sepúlveda, who began operations of drainage to 1580. Using the labor of 8,000 Indians, opened a big notch in the edge of the Lake - still perfectly recognizable - to allow its drainage, lowering the level in twenty meters, until the canal sank, causing the deaths of numerous excavators.
It was necessary to abandon the idea, while gold had been found: submission to the King Felipe II included a gold breastplate, a cane covered with plates of gold and an emerald that had the amazing size of a chicken egg.
The search for riches that exceeded everything imaginable was not limited only to the shores of the Lake Guatavita. Already at the time of the conquistadors had spread the belief in the Golden man and his mystical city of Manoa, where until the pans were made of gold. It was believed that it could be located in the unexplored forests of the Amazon basin, and for this reason numerous explorers and adventurers are entered into the jungle every year. Many did not return ever.
One of them that Yes did was sir Walter Raleigh, but had reason to regret it. Submitted by Queen Isabel I of England in 1595, he delved into the jungle of Guyana, in search of Manoa and their gold, and was proposed to enter into alliance with the inhabitants of Manoah to thus defeat the Spanish. But the expedition was not successful, and the failure of a second expedition in 1617-1618 served as a pretext for execution.
The Golden man was blurring into memory and his name ended up being used to designate the place where waiting immeasurable riches: El Dorado, hidden in the Andes or the Amazon jungle. For two centuries it continued the search; and in a sense he found him, though not in the way that the conquistadors had dreamed of since rummage this fabulous Kingdom allowed that explorers and prospectors reveal, beyond their effort and cruelty, the secret heart of South America.