Dazzling Gold Treasures Found In 1,300-Year-Old Tomb In Panama

Archaeologists in Panama have uncovered the spectacular tomb of a pre-Hispanic chieftain whose funerary offerings include lavish gold items and earrings made of whale teeth, among other treasures. Dated to around 750 CE, the adult male buried within the grave is likely to have been a high-status member of the ancient Gran Coclé culture, which was famous for its gold artisanry in pre-Columbian times.

The burial was discovered within a necropolis known as the El Caño archaeological park, where other tombs as well as stone monoliths and wooden ceremonial structures have previously been found. According to the Panamanian Ministry of Culture, the site was in use between roughly 700 and 1000 CE and has already yielded a number of “multiple burials”, each of which contains between eight and 32 bodies belonging to elites and lower-ranking individuals who were sacrificed in order to accompany their superiors in the afterlife.

The ancient nobleman was buried alongside staggering amounts of gold.
Image courtesy of Ministry of Culture of Panama

It’s currently unclear how many people were interred within the newly discovered grave, although archaeologists have confirmed that the Coclé lord was buried facedown on top of the body of a woman, as was customary for this society. Alongside the remains, researchers discovered large numbers of ceramic artifacts as well as gold pieces with enormous monetary and historical value.

Among these funerary items were five gold chest-plates, two belts of golden beads, two human-shaped earrings (one man and one woman), another earring in the form of a “double crocodile”, and a series of circular gold plates. A further five earrings decorated with gold-capped sperm whale teeth were also found in the tomb, as were bracelets and clothing elaborated with dog teeth.

Earrings in the shape of people and crocodiles were found within the tomb.
Image courtesy of Ministry of Culture of Panama

Other objects buried with the chieftain include a series of bone flutes, two rattles, and a beaded necklace. Archaeologists are still in the process of excavating the tomb in order to learn more about its ancient inhabitants and their elaborate possessions.

Archaeologists are now continuing their excavations at the bling-filled site.
Image courtesy of Ministry of Culture of Panama

Thought to have existed from roughly 200 BCE to 1550 CE in what is now Panama, the Gran Coclé culture is known for its skillfully created gold artifacts. Spectacular examples of these expertly crafted items have been found at numerous ancient burial sites across the country.

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