Colombia’s capital Bogota declared its first protected archaeological zone on Sunday, laying down legal safeguards for human remains and thousands of pieces of pottery discovered in an indigenous cemetery, reported local media.
So far, over 135 human remains and more than 300,000 pottery fragments have been uncovered in Hacienda El Carmen, one of the largest indigenous burial sites in Latin America, accidentally discovered by workers in 2008 during early construction stages of a housing project, reported CM& news.
Of the 24 protected archaeological areas in Colombia, Hacienda El Carmen is the first in the city of Bogota.
On Sunday, Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro joined officials from the Department of Culture, Recreation, and Sport as well as the Ministry of Culture to announce site, located in the Usme district in southwestern Bogota, as an area of cultural heritage.
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The mayor formally requested that the Colombian Institute of Anthropology and History (ICANH) declare the site an archaeological zone, as well.
According to research by archaeologists from the National University of Colombia, the remains found in the 20-acre zone date as far back as the year 1200, and belong to those of the Muisca people, an indigenous tribe that settled the Bogota plateau around 500 AD.
Experts say that burial sites were treated by the Muisca peoples as a places of worship, where offerings were laid, and tribe members could communicate with the spirits of their ancestors.
Bogota city officials say they hope the zone will become an area of research, conservation and knowledge, where Bogota city residents will recognize their past and appreciate the ancestral cultural heritage. The Usme community was said to have been central in promoting the site’s historic recognition, and the Muisca peoples, part of the National Organization of Indigenous Colombians (ONIC) has been active in promoting cultural reclamation projects in Bogota.
- Se declara primer área arqueológica protegida en Bogotá (CM& la notica)