THE LOST CITY ..................................................................Spanish version
Patrimony of Humanity
The Archeological Park of the Lost City (Teyuna) is located in the Magdalena's department in the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta. The park is on one of the margins of the Buritaca River and has a very humid and tempered climate (1100 m above sea level, approximately). The site is located on an archeological area called "Lost City," administratively found within the municipality of Santa Marta.
Buritaca 200 or the Lost City was discovered in 1976 by a group of archeologists from the Colombian Institute of Anthropology, headed by Gilberto Cadavid and restored almost in it's totality. Archeological investigations at the site seem to indicate that this town was founded around 800 D.C. and abandoned sometime between 1550 and 1600 D.C. Eleven other towns were found in these surrounding areas and some have become archeological excavations. The site measures between 900 and 1200 meters high on spurs of the Cerro Cornea in the north part of the Sierra Nevada (Colombia) above the right Buritaca River margin. It is known as Teyuna by the indigenous people of this region, hence, it's compound name: Archeological Park Lost City-Teyuna, although within the nomenclature of archeological sites of Sierra Nevada in Santa Marta is also known as Buritaca 200. The place is comprised of a complex system of constructs, spotted ways, stairs and walls intercommunicated by a series of terraces and platforms, which are above what was once construction for ceremonial centers, houses and storage sites. It occupies an area of approximately two squared kilometers. Since its discovery, the site has been administered by the Colombian Institute of Anthropology as a National Archeological Park and has been brought before the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) as a Cultural Patrimony of Humanity.
Numerous indigenous groups inhabited the coast and Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta in the 16th Century. The Spaniards denominated with the name of its main populations: Bonda, Pocigueica, Taironaca. Since the 17th Century, the use of the term Tairona generalized, referring to inhabitants of this region. After a century of resistence, the Spanish took victory over the indigenous people, burning their villages and areas of agricultural production. The leaders were captured and executed. Nevertheless, they were unsuccessful in founding town in Sierra Nevada, which lost the potential for colonial economy. Hence, the forest finished covering the vestiges of the old towns.
The archeological and anthropological investigation in the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta has been going on since the first decades of the 20th Century. The excavations of Alden Mason, the Gerardo Reichel Dolmatoff and Alicia Dussan stand out from the rest in the small town. Since the 1950's, studies have continued regarding this zone of historical research. One of the most important sites involves studies of the inhabitants who built terraces, known as Buritaca 200 or the Lost City. This site was discovered and excavated in 1976 along the border of the Buritaca River by a group of archeologist from the University of the Andes. In addition to these sites, there have been over 300 towns registered as archeological sites, with diverse sizes and complexities, both along the coast as in the Sierra. These towns were constituted by dozens and almost a hundred houses, located on steep slope edges which helped place stone foundations for the houses. The different towns communicated between an intricate road network.
The European denomination of the zone since the 17th Century supposedly lost the cultural material that characterized the pre-Hispanic inhabitants of the Sierra. The towns were abandoned and the majority of the population fled to regions of very difficult access. At the present time, the communities of Kogi, Arhuaca, Sanka and Kankuama live in Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta.
How to get to the Park
When arriving at the Archeological Park of the Lost City, you should the route via Santa Marta-Riohacha, and to veer onto the site known as Guacha Puerto Nuevo in the Km 52, towards the population of Mamey (12 Km). From there, you are to go 2 or 3 days by way of a bridlepath and foot, through the mountains that border the Buritaca River (26 km), until the Archeological Park.
To become familiar with the logistical conditions of the visit to the Lost City, it is recommended that travelers contact GAIRA VIP tourism agency in the city of Santa Marta.
Lost City Map