The gold of Colombia and the legend of El Dorado: New discoveries

About the event

The legend of a lost gold city, El Dorado, is as fascinating today as it was five hundred years ago. The dream has sparked countless expeditions into the depths in South America, some of them quite recent, and it remains alive in Colombian popular culture. From the name of Bogotá’s airport to the prominent display of the gold Muisca raft in the Museo del Oro, El Dorado seems an inseparable part of Colombia. But what is, or was, El Dorado, and what can archaeology and science tell us about it?

In this talk, Prof. Martinón-Torres drew on his joint research with the Museo del Oro staff to try to address these and other questions. Using scientific techniques to study Pre-Hispanic goldwork, he will reveal hitherto unknown aspects of the manufacture and use of gold among the Muisca, and present a renewed perspective on the Muisca raft.

About the speaker

Marcos Martinón-Torres is Professor of Archaeological Science at the UCL Institute of Archaeology, where he leads a team of international researchers. He is an expert in the use of scientific instruments to analyse archaeological artefacts, seeking clues to investigate their manufacture, origins or date. Some of his most prominent current projects are focussed on China’s Terracotta Army and Colombia’s Pre-Hispanic goldwork. For the latter, he has conducted much work in partnership with the Museo del Oro in Bogotá. He has written well over 100 academic publications, delivered public talks in over 20 countries, and featured in several TV documentaries internationally.