El Dorado

Muisca_raft_Legend_of_El_Dorado_Offerings_of_goldColombia is where the great myth of El Dorado originated with a tribe called the Muiscas.  In a ritual, the ruler El Dorado, entered Lake Guatavita (located 35 miles NE of Bogotá) covered in gold dust. The people then threw offerings, which included gold, into the sacred lake. Hearing about El Dorado, conquistadores began an arduous journey from the coast up the Magdalena Valley with hundreds of men in search of the Muiscas gold; only a fraction of the force survived.

So begins European history in South America with the brutal conquistadores:  the Indians were enslaved and forced to convert to Catholicism. Over the decades the class system evolved as Europeans genes mixed with those of the indigenous people as well as the Africans and the terms mulatto, mestizo and crilloas arose.

(BTW Bogotá has what may be the most impressive Gold Museum in the world and includes artifacts from Lake Guatavita).

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