Thursday, July 7, 2016

Gold from Ancient Panama - The Coclé

For more than a thousand years, a cemetery on the banks of the Rio Grande Coclé in Panama lay undisturbed, escaping the attention of gold seekers and looters. The river flooded in 1927, scattering beads of gold along its banks.

In 1940, a Penn Museum team led by archaeologist J. Alden Mason excavated at the cemetery, unearthing spectacular golden finds.


Human effigy pendant of gold, copper, silver alloy, Sitio Conte, Panama, ca. 700-900CE.
Large golden plaques and pendants with animal-human motifs were found, precious and semi-precious stone, ivory, and animal bone ornaments, and literally tons of detail-rich painted ceramics.

It was extraordinary evidence of a sophisticated Precolumbian people, the Coclé, who lived, died, and painstakingly buried their dead long ago.

Long overshadowed by research on other indigenous Central and South American peoples, the Coclé, who lived from about 700 to 900 CE, remain mysterious.


Emerald Pendant, Sitio Conte, Panama, ca. 700-900 CE.

Jade and Gold nose ring