San Agustín Archaeological Park, Colombia

2016-04-19

Rather than just leering at artifacts through protective glass casing that filters a layer of mysticism and walking across convenient, glossy tiled floors that disconnect the soles from from the earth, San Agustín Archaeological Park is more like a living museum that if you tap into your imagination all comes to life. Further exploration of these pre-Colombian times by way of a steep walk down the Andean valley and crossing the grand Magdalena River extends the journey to more sites that spread across the region to Alto de los Ídolos.

Much of these parks display funerary and burial rituals. Stone carvings resembling people and creatures are displayed across a large forested land with views of far off mountains. Distance between stone statues allows you to enjoy nature and contemplate what life might have been like in that region during the first few centuries of the earth as we know it.

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Many unique styles lean heavily from realistic representations to abstract and exaggerated portrayals of gods and sacred animals. The creativity and art is remarkable. The stone creations stand like the make up of a strange, scattered portfolio of characters, long gone but immortalized.

No one really knows the exact truths behind the individuality of each piece or the specific rituals of the burial sites but there is much speculation and dramatic stories surrounding the history of a people that come across as brut yet compassionate, fierce yet humble, archaic yet enlightened. With great awareness to their environment they believed deeply in the their connection to the earth, the creatures that roam, the sun, the moon, and their religion that paid tribute to the unknown. Their burial sites reflect their great respect for life. Their stories weigh heavily hidden in the stones they used to create their world.

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I’m left wondering how our society will be remembered in a thousand plus years. What stories and myths will be our legacy as a collective? In a world of autonomy and self importance we will not be remembered by specific celebrities or events, we will be judged by our greater unified impression. What truths and tragedies will be our ultimate fate? Will we be perceived as a doomed era of self importance and superficialities, of war and conflict, or of innovative times with booming technology and creativity? If only, to be a fly on the wall in the year 5050 or beyond.

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