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To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

More information about how we have ‘runified’ this site

 

Organised with Museo del Oro

17 October 2013 – 23 March 2014

Sponsored by

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About the exhibition

  • Jaguar-shaped poporo (lime container), Colombia, Calima-Malagana (Yotoco), 200 BC – AD 1300

    Jaguar-shaped poporo (lime container), Colombia, Calima-Malagana (Yotoco), 200 BC–AD 1300. © Museo del Oro – Banco de la República, Colombia.

  • Mask with nose ornament, Quimbaya, gold alloy, 500 BC–AD 1600

    Mask with nose ornament, Quimbaya, gold alloy, 500 BC–AD 1600. © The Trustees of the British Museum.

  • Bird pectoral, Popayan, gold alloy, AD900–1600

    Bird pectoral, Popayan, gold alloy, AD900–1600.
    © The Trustees of the British Museum.

  • Seated female poporo, Quimbaya, gold alloy, AD600–1100

    Seated female poporo, Quimbaya, gold alloy, AD600–1100.
    © The Trustees of the British Museum.

  • Helmet, Quimbaya, gold alloy, 500BC–AD600

    Helmet, Quimbaya, gold alloy, 500BC–AD600
    © The Trustees of the British Museum.

  • Poporo top with human faces, Quimbaya, AD600-1100

    Poporo top with human faces, Quimbaya, AD600–1100.
    © The Trustees of the British Museum.

  • Pectoral, early Tolima, gold alloy, 1 BC–AD 700

    Pectoral, early Tolima, gold alloy, 1 BC–AD 700.
    © Museo del Oro – Banco de la República, Colombia.

  • Figure with nose ornament, late Cauca, ceramic, AD 900–1600

    Figure with nose ornament, late Cauca, ceramic, AD 900–1600.
    © Museo del Oro – Banco de la República, Colombia.

  • Crocodile shaped pendant, late Quimbaya, gold alloy, 700 BC – AD 1600

    Crocodile shaped pendant, late Quimbaya, gold alloy, 700 BC–AD 1600. © Museo del Oro – Banco de la República, Colombia.

  • Necklace with claw shaped beads, Zenú, gold alloy, 200BC–AD1000

    Necklace with claw shaped beads, Zenú, gold alloy, 200BC–AD1000. © Museo del Oro – Banco de la República, Colombia.

  • Pectoral, early Tolima, gold alloy, 1 BC–AD 700

    Pectoral, early Tolima, gold alloy, 1 BC–AD 700
    © Museo del Oro – Banco de la República, Colombia.

  • Anthropomorphic bat pectoral, Tairona, gold alloy, AD900–1600

    Anthropomorphic bat pectoral, Tairona, gold alloy, AD900–1600
    © Museo del Oro – Banco de la República, Colombia.

  • Funerary mask, Calima-Malagana, gold alloy, 100BC–AD400

    Funerary mask, Calima-Malagana, gold alloy, 100BC–AD400
    © Museo del Oro – Banco de la República, Colombia.


The myths of El Dorado

For centuries Europeans were dazzled by the legend of El Dorado – literally ‘the golden one’. Many different stories were told of El Dorado – sometimes it was imagined as a lost city of gold, sometimes as a man covered in powdered gold who plunged into the middle of Lake Guatavita (near modern Bogotá). The exhibition uncovers the fascinating truth behind some of these myths. Unlike in Europe, gold was not valued as currency in pre-Hispanic Colombia. Instead it had great symbolic meaning, facilitating all kinds of social and spiritual transformations. It was one way the elite could publicly assert their rank, both in life and in death.

Complex craftsmanship

The exhibition features over 200 fascinating objects from Museo del Oro, Bogotá, and around 100 from the British Museum’s collection. They show technologically advanced and sophisticated goldworking techniques, including the use of an alloy composed of gold and copper, and the use of textiles, feathers, stones and ceramics. These beautiful and detailed works display a level of complex craftsmanship that perfectly marries art and skill, and show the differences in techniques and designs across the region.

Discover ancient Colombia

With a focus on the craftsmanship of peoples we know as the Muisca, Quimbaya, Calima and Tairona, the exhibition presents the complex network of societies in ancient Colombia – a hidden world of distinct and vibrant cultures. The remarkable objects reveal glimpses of these cultures’ spiritual lives, including rituals of hallucinogenic transformation, engagement with animal spirits and objects animated through music, dancing and sunlight.

A unique exhibition

The exhibition uncovers the extraordinary metalworking skill of the peoples of ancient Colombia through a unique collection of objects, some of which are being displayed in the UK for the first time.


Recommend this exhibition