In the final centuries before contact with the Spaniards, the Tairona heartland in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta was densely populated. In the last years many archaeological sites have been discovered, ranging from small settlements to large towns. The Tairona also constructed irrigation canals and agricultural terraces for maize and a variety of other crops, and their skill as engineers and architects is attested by the stone roads, reservoirs, bridges and stairways. They also excelled in goldwork which combines a technical mastery of casting with a love of fine detail. Instead of a few impressive ornaments worn by a few chiefs large quantities of adornments were also available to a large proportion of the population.
Colonial-period contacts between Spaniards and the Tairona was an exercise in frustration for the former. The Spaniards founded the coastal city of Santa Marta in 1526, but their attempts to practice agriculture and husbandry near the town met with little success. Punitive expeditions against the militant Tairona did not lead to enduring conquest. Missionary activities brought meager results. Only after the last rebellion of 1559-60 was their resistance partly broken.
For any kind of publication use of the drawing. permission must be requested in writing from the author.