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==The story of El Dorado==
The kernel of the story of El Dorado is as follows. It was a lost city of gold, people by an Amerindian population, in the midst of a remote jungle. The city was part of a sophisticated culture, that was fabulously wealthy in precious metals and gems. After Columbus's arrival in the Americas in AD1492, the Spanish Conquistadors were able to conquer two great Empires, the Aztecs, and Inca and many smaller kingdoms. They seized huge quantities of gold and other precious metals. The Spanish, despite their wealth, had an endless thirst for gold.
Even after the conquest of the Inca and Aztec Empires and their fabulous wealth did not satisfy the Europeans. For many decades the Conquistadors continued to look for Amerindian communities to subdue and to take their gold. In the late 16th century, stories emerged about a city in the heart of the jungle, and it became popularly known as El Dorado. The tale inspired many men to risk their lives in the search for the fabled city. There were many attempts to find El Dorado, all unsuccessful <ref>Nicholl, Charles. The creature in the map: a journey to El Dorado. University of Chicago Press, 1997), p. 13</ref>. The first known expedition to find the lost city was that of Gonzalo Jimenez de Quesada in the late 1530s. He explored the areas dominated by the Musica people and seized vast qualities of gold. Some say that these Conquistadors did much to spread the story of El Dorado. In 1540, Gonzalo Pizarro and Francisco de Orellana went in search of the city and traveled deep into the jungle and they were the first Europeans to explore the Amazon River, but they found no gold or city. Many of the members of this expedition died from attacks by natives and disease. In 1560 two Conquistadors Pedro de Ursúa and Lope de Aguirre set out to find the city. Aguirre killed de Ursúa and took sole control of the mission. He possibly went mad and he and his men committed many atrocities. However, they did manage to travel down the Orinoco River and made it all the way to the Atlantic, which was first. Aguirre later tried to make himself a king but was eventually killed. A film was made based on his life by Werner Herzog ‘Aguirre the Wrath of God’ (1972). There were a number of other Spanish expeditions and even a German mission to find El Dorado, but they ended in disaster and the death of many explorers. The great English sailor Sir Walter Raleigh heard the story of El Dorado and launched two missions to find the fabled city and its immense riches. During these, he fought with both the Spanish and the native tribes and lost many men. The English King James I had ordered Raleigh not to go on his second expedition because it was putting a peace treaty with Madrid in jeopardy<ref>Meggers, B. J. (2001). The continuing quest for El Dorado: round two. Latin American Antiquity, 12(3), 304-325</ref>. When Raleigh returned to England he was incarcerated in the Tower of London and executed. The expeditions to find El Dorado played a very important role in the exploration of South America, but they often had devastating consequences for native peoples. The explorers massacred many, burnt their village and spread lethal diseases. By the 18th century, many began to doubt the story of El Dorado. However, some continued to risk their lives in the jungles to find the fabled place, in the hope of becoming fabulously rich. Even today there are still those who hope to find the site of the city, which by now would be in ruins <ref>Meggers, p 310</ref>. For example, an Italian researcher has investigated an area in remote Peru, in the hope of finding El Dorado. However, no evidence for the existence of the fabled place exists and it remains a mystery.
[[File: El Dorado 2.jpg|200px|thumb|left|A Muisca gold representation of a coronation ritual]]
==The gold man of the Musica==
The Musica tribe are regarded as one of the greatest pre-Columbian cultures on a par with the Maya and Incan. They inhabited an area in what is now modern Columbia from at least 1200 B.C and they developed a very sophisticated series of states and a confederation of states. They became very rich through trade and they especially valued gold which they believed had magical powers. It is believed that the story of El Dorado was inspired by the tales and the rituals of the Musica. When a new king was crowned he had to undergo, a series of rituals. In one ceremony the newly appointed king was taken to Lake Guatavita, which was sacred to the Musica <ref>Bahn, Paul. Archaeology, Theories, Methods, and Practice. 2nd edition. London, UK: Thames and Hudson, 1991), p 123</ref>. He would be covered in gold dust and placed on a raft with a treasure trove of gems and other valuables. In the center of the lake, the king would wash the gold dust from his naked body and throw valuables into the Lake, as a sacrifice to a deity. During this time, the new King was known as the ‘Golden One’ or ‘Gilded Man’. This was apparently mistranslated by the Spanish and as a result the phrase El Dorado gained common currency. Lake Guatavita because of the many sacrifices, was believed by the Conquistadors to hold a great deal of treasure and possibly inspired the story of a fabled city. In the 1540s, some Spanish adventurers tried to drain the lake in order to seize all its gold and other valuables. However, they only recovered a small amount of precious metal. Later attempts also failed. However, modern archaeologists have managed to recover some amazing golden artifacts from the lake, including one that seems to portray the ritual with the king on the raft that may have inspired the stories of El Dorado <ref>Bahn, p 137</ref>.