The Muisca (Muysccubbun) civilization flourished in ancient Colombia between 600 and 1600 CE. Their territory encompassed what is now Bogotá and its environs and they have gained lasting fame as the origin of the El Dorado legend. At the time of the contact they were organized in a loose alliance, which included the zipa of Bacatá, the zaque of Hunza and the iraca of the sun city Sugamuxi (Sogamoso). Important chiefs were Zipa Tisquesusa, Zaque Quemuenchatocha, Iraca Sogamoso and Tundama.
The culture called La Tolita/Tumaco and its neighbor, the Jama-Coaque, flourished two thousand years ago in the Pacific coast lowlands close to the border of present-day Ecuador and Colombia. The period of the greatest cultural achievement lasted until around AD 400. Some ceramic figures allude to the chiefs of Jama-Coaque, as they bear splendid regalia announcing their rank and status. This reconstruction is based on a ceramic figure which was found in San Isidoro (Manabi): A seated lord wears spectacular ear ornaments, a headdress of sea snails, and a collar made of green stones. He bears a lime flask in one hand and, in the other, a spatula. These were the implements of coca-chewing, a prerogative of Andean rulers in rites performed at specified times.
A new project. Draft. Focus is on a culture where research is just beginning.
In the Late Period IV (ca. 300 – 500 A.D.) a ceramic type called Guinea Incised was spread in the area of the Tempisque Basin. Some examples display human figures arrayed as bats, or are costumed as alligators. They are often interpreted as shamans/shamanesses impersonating powerful animals of the tropical forest. The painting shows an alligator shamaness in the caverns of Barra Honda, Tempisque Basin, Guanacaste, which today is a National Park. The prototype of the mask can be seen on a pedestal bowl done in the Guinea Incised style, and also on zoomorphic vessels from Nosara. Jade jewelry like the bar pectoral was inspired by Maya bar pectorals. Quantities of jade material were imported from the Motagua Valley, Guatemala, and, as we know so far, there were several routes from Guatemala to Costa Rica.