July 09, 2013, 2:29 pm -- /EPR NETWORK/ -- For centuries Europeans were dazzled by the legend of a lost city of gold in South America. The truth behind this myth is even more fascinating, as well be revealed in a major new exhibition at the British Museum this winter. The British Museum is in central London close to dozens of superb hotels – for tourists planning to book hotel rooms, visit LondonTown.com, London's best website for finding the latest deals on the perfect London hotel.
El Dorado – literally “the golden one” – actually refers to the ritual that took place at Lake Guatavita, near modern Bogotá, when the newly elected leader, covered in powdered gold, dived into the lake and emerged as the new chief of the Muisca. In ancient Colombia, gold was used to fashion some of the most visually dramatic and sophisticated works of art found anywhere in the Americas before European contact. This exhibition will feature over 300 exquisite objects drawn from the Museodel Oro in Bogotá, one of the best and most extensive collections of Pre-Hispanic gold in the world, as well as from the British Museum's own unique collections.Through these exceptional objects the exhibition will explore the complex network of societies in ancient Colombia – a hidden world of distinct and vibrant cultures spanning 1600 BC to AD 1700 – with particular focus on the Muisca, Quimbaya, Calima, Tairona, Tolima and Zenú chiefdoms.
Although gold was not valued as currency in pre-Hispanic Colombia, it had great symbolic meaning. It was one way the elite could publicly assert their rank and semi-divine status, both in life and in death. The remarkable objects displayed across the exhibition reveal glimpses of these cultures' spiritual lives including engagement with animal spirits though the use of gold objects, music, dancing, sunlight and hallucinogenic substances that all lead to a physical and spiritual transformation enabling communication with the supernatural. Animal iconography is used to express this transformation in powerful pieces demonstrating a wide range of imaginative works of art, showcasing avian pectorals, necklaces with feline claws or representations of men transforming into spectacular bats though the use of profuse body adornment.
The exhibition opens in October 2013 and booking is now taking place. For information on how to purchase tickets and for news about other exhibitions taking place at the British Museum this year, see LondonTown.com's extensive listings of events and exhibitions in London.
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