Going for Gold: The Legendary Lost City of El Dorado with Dr. Daniela Arroyo Barrantes

Going for Gold: The Legendary Lost City of El Dorado with Dr. Daniela Arroyo Barrantes


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The exact place of El Dorado has remained elusive for centuries, shifting from Costa Rica and Panama, to Peru and Colombia, and even to the Guianas and Venezuela, as the ongoing exploration of South America promised new territories and riches. But never we were this close to understanding the truth behind the myth.

Drawing from spectacular collections of gold in Costa Rica, Colombia, as well as pieces preserved in the United Kingdom and the United States, together we will learn about the most striking gold artifacts created in the Greater Chibcha region in South America, including pectorals, masks, pendants and nose rings.

During this interactive conversation, we will explore:

  • The original ethnohistoric documents that preserve key insights about El Dorado as recorded by Spanish chroniclers since the 16th century
  • The financial and political conditions that motivated the search for gold in Europe. 
  • The extraordinary Pre-Columbian traditions of metalworking in Lower Central America and South America

Participants will learn to categorize the emblematic and transformative traits of gold, its color, malleability, and shininess, without forgetting about the technical refinement developed by the metalworking communities of practice across distant geographical locations. 

Led by an expert in archaeology, we will discuss the most recent discoveries that suggest how these gold pieces played key political and ritual roles in many indigenous societies, and how they were used in important ceremonies carried out in sacred spaces across South America.

Dr. Daniela Arroyo Barrantes is a Professor of History and Heritage Management at the University of Costa Rica. She has a PhD in Archaeology from the University of Cambridge and a degree in Archaeological Sciences from the University of Rome 'La Sapienza'. Dr. Arroyo has extensive fieldwork experience across different geographies, including Latin America, the Middle East, and Europe. At UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre, she worked towards the conservation of natural and cultural sites around the world. She has also experience as a Context tour guide and has led hundreds of scholar visits in Italy, the UK, and France. With a passion for and expert knowledge of Costa Rica, her home country, as well as an engaging lecturing style, Dr. Arroyo Barrantes' particular interest is the sustainable conservation of environmental and cultural heritage, as well as community-based ecotourism.

This conversation is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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