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San Agustin site
Posted by: HoboSylvain | 2015-01-10 18:15:21 | San Agustin, Huila, Colombia
Keywords: pre-hispanic, UNESCO
The most visited archaeological site of Colombia is by far San Agustin. It's easy to observe when you arrive in the town which is filled with tourist services (information centres, tour companies, etc). It's also very easy to reach, with buses directly from the capital (Bogota)! The site boasts the largest collection of religious statues in South America, the art there is phenomenal and when you consider these were done over 1000 years ago.

The valleys around the area of San Agustin and its river Madgalena flourished between first and ninth century of our era.  Very little is known about the actual people living in that era, but the remarkable traces left us through their tombs and stunning statues make us believe they were a very prosperous society dealing with other groups, producing large agriculture volumes to trade with others and free human resources for some people to dedicate to art, etc.

The techniques used in the carving of these sculptures were very advanced and show remarkable sense of art.  The people from San Agustin then disappeared around year 900 without much explanation.  We know the area was deserted and reverted back to its natural state for centuries before other people came into the area.  The current indigenous people of Paez occupying the area are from this second wave of occupation, probably not related to the statues creators.

Some statues inside the site museum.


There are many sites within the San Agustin park, including a few located in the nearby town of Isnos.  The main location though features a museum and a large sampling of the statues, grouped in 7 main areas.  Most of them are still in their original location, just being protected from the elements with a little metal roof and from the visitors with nicely done barriers.  They also created a path in a small wood area near the museum to locate over 35 statues found all over the place.

The site is very well structured and very easy to access (unlikely Tierradentro).  Most parts can easily be reached with minimal effort, while another is on top of a nearby mountain, but there's a nice rock path and stairs to ascend... so you don't have to hike your way through by the side of the mountain.  It's an extensive site in terms of size and richness of the exhibit.  Definitely worth a visit!

Because of the high quality of the sculptures and their excellent state of preservation, the park was added to the World Heritage List in 1995.

Some statues in the wooden area behind the museum.

Related posts:
Tierradentro
Stone spheres of the Diquís valley
Southern Guatemala
Joya de Cerén
Tikal

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