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The El Dorado Myth

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The Origins of the Myth and the Search for Gold


Spanish conquistador, Francisco Pizarro was attracted by the myth of the El Dorado to South America. The "El Dorado" has become a term used for the so-called "Land of Gold", but the myth itself has nothing to do with the land, but with a person. The El Dorado was a Golden Man, a Muisca Indian god.


This Muisca legend of the "El Dorado" tells us about the Golden Man deity or god, who had decided to become one with the World and has left to the other World by walking into a lake. He is believed to have had golden skin and that we simply walked into the center of the lake, identified later as Lake Guatavita (Lago Guatavita) in Colombia.


The proper translation of "El Dorado" is considered to the "The Golden One", not "Golden Man"


Conquistadores understood that there was gold hidden in the center of the lake. They wanted to take it out of there, but it seemed to be quite a difficult task to achieve.


Lake Guatavita is a crater lake.

Conquistador Francisco Pizarro, Gonzalo Pizarro and Francisco de Orellana were and their followers had literally cut down the side of the lake's edge, in a V-shape. They were planning to drain the lake's water and collect the gold from its bottom. Having put large effort into the job initially, they got tired afterwards and have given up.

Even today, the V-like cut is clearly visible on the side of the crater.


The Spanish conquistadores had spent whole fortunes in their search for gold in South America. They also put their lives to risk and have often confronted each other, rivalized and in many cases they even killed each other for the existing or imaginary treasures.


The El Dorado myth mustn't be confused with the story about Paititi, a hidden Inca city, said to contain large amounts of hidden Inca treasure.


The myth of the El Dorado was spread by the "early bird" Spanish explorers who had taken part in expeditions and conquests. The myth has spread fast, even in an exaggerated manner, making most conquistadores dream of tremendous amounts of treasures, gold...


The "El Dorado", as explained, was a mythical man, not a territory, a "Land of Gold", as it later became known.

The "Land of Gold" has become to mean more than just one place... Conquistador Hernán Cortés and others who had travelled to Central America believed that that certain region was the place where tremendous treasures lay hidden. Others, like Francisco Pizarro went looking for it first in today's Colombia and Venezuela, then later in the Andes, where the Inca Empire was.


It is believed that the first conquistador who started the story of the "El Dorado" was Vasco Núñez de Balboa, who heard about the Muisca legend and has spread it further to others.




The Metaphorical Meaning of the Golden One, "El Dorado"


In Muisca mythology, the gold (mnya) represents the energy of creative power belonging to everything that exists in the World.

The gold in Muisca mythology was therefore more than just a precious metal.

Some might say that gold to the Muiscas meant happines, power, success, divine connections, all in one. Just like the Holy Grail to Christians.




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