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Beyond El Dorado at the British Museum

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by Sandra Lawson (subscribe)
To paraphrase Dorothy: 'There is no place like London.' I hope I can convince you of that here. Also check out my blog at damselwithadulcimer.wordpress.com and my theatre reviews at www.playstosee.com
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Beyond El Dorado is More Than Bling it is a History Lesson
Later this year The British Museum and Museo del Oro will be collaborating in an exhibition celebrating gold and metalworking in ancient Colombia. Most of us are familiar with the historic quest by Europeans in South America for a lost city of gold. Referred to as 'El Dorado' (the golden one), the name is actually a ritual that was enacted at Lake Guatavita, near modern day BogotŠ. The new chief of the Muisca people would first be covered in powdered gold and then dive into the lake before he could emerge as their leader.

Beyond El Dorado Power and Gold in Ancient Colombia
Beyond El Dorado Power and Gold in Ancient Colombia (Image courtesy of the British Museum website)


BogotŠ's Museo del Oro has loaned the British Museum more than 200 objects, which will be displayed with a further 100 from the host museum's collection. If you think modern goldsmiths produce works of art, you will be amazed by the complexity of interworking with gold, textiles, feathers, ceramics and stones produced by pre-Hispanic gold workers.

Not only is Beyond Eldorado power and gold in ancient Colombia a display of the artistry involved in working with precious metal, it will also introduce you to ancient Colombian cultures and peoples such as the Muisca, Tairona, Calimba and Quimbaya. If you think LSD was invented in the twentieth century, then think again. Hundreds of years agoSouth Americans were experimenting with hallucinogenics, engaging with animal spirits and animating objects using sunlight, music and dance.

If you can't wait until October, you could step back and remind yourself of a cartoonish reimagining of the quest for South American gold.

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Why? To investigate and learn about pre-Hispanic peoples and their relationship with gold
When: Daily between 10am and 5.30pm
Where: The British Museum
Cost: £10, free to museum members
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