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Ciudad Perdida, "The Lost City," Finds International Attention

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Britney Shubert
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« on: September 06, 2012, 12:52:50 am »


Ciudad Perdida, "The Lost City," Finds International Attention


By Heritage on the Wire   Fri, Sep 07, 2012



The ancient monumental site, nestled within a mountain forest in Colombia, South America, is lost no more.
Ciudad Perdida, "The Lost City," Finds International Attention

Every year, some 8,000 tourists travel to the small town of El Mamey, Colombia, where they embark on a three-day, 23.3-kilometer hike up into the lush jungles of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.  Along the way, they may see any number of wild animals, including jaguars, ocelots, howler monkeys and over 600 bird species.  But for most visitors, the real draw is what lies at the end of the trail.

Ciudad Perdida, Spanish for “Lost City,” is one of Colombia’s most spectacular cultural heritage sites.  Inhabited by the Tayrona until the end of the 16th century, it is made up of hundreds of stone terraces and rings, which archaeologists believe were used as foundations for temples, dwellings and plazas.  Although the Tayrona built more than 250 towns across a 2,000 square mile area, few are as large or as impressive as Ciudad Perdida, which is believed to have been a regional center of political, social and economic power, home to around 3,000 people.

After diseases introduced by the Spanish forced the Tayrona to abandon the city, it was forgotten until 1975, when looters accidentally rediscovered the site in their search for pre-Columbian treasures.  It was taken over in 1976 by the Colombian Institute of Anthropology and History (ICANH), which began clearing forest and researching the site.  In 2009, GHF began working in partnership with ICANH to preserve Ciudad Perdida’s ancient features and to engage the local communities as major stakeholders in the site’s sustainable development.

Earlier this month, the growing global interest in Ciudad Perdida provided the lead story for CCTV’s Americas Now, an international broadcast news magazine.  The program followed a tour group led by Dr. Santiago Giraldo, Director of GHF’s Colombia Heritage Program, as they trekked to the Lost City.  Along the way, they met members of the Kogi indigenous tribe — descendants of the Tayrona — who are helped by the Tayrona Foundation for Archaeological and Environmental Research (FIAAT), which Dr. Giraldo helped to establish.

“What we would like, with the indigenous community and the peasant community, is to keep things at a manageable level, so that they have better livelihoods, but it does not get out of hand,” Dr. Giraldo said.

At a reception last May hosted by Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University, Dr. Giraldo spoke passionately about community development investments being made in the region, including improvements in training and capacity building, income and employment, and heritage development for the local communities.  The Buritaca River Basin of the Santa Marta is home to over 300 campesino people, as well as about 400 people belonging to the Kogi and Arsario communities.
Dr. Giraldo described how GHF is encouraging sustainable tourism in the region by helping to improve conditions at eco-lodges run by the indigenous communities, providing fuel-efficient wood-burning stoves and residual water treatment systems, and improving trail signage and maintenance in the archaeological park.  GHF also provides natural- and cultural heritage training, as well as wilderness first aid training, for local guides at the site.

With Ciudad Perdida becoming a more popular ecotourism destination every day, visitors now have a number of options when it comes to booking tours, while local people are benefiting from the increased business opportunities.  However, as at any ancient site, that tourism must be regulated so that it does not become overwhelming.  The Ciudad Perdida Master Conservation Plan, drafted by ICANH, will ensure that the site is sustainably developed.

Among those in the tour group featured on Americas Now was Dr. Barra O’Dannabhain, an archaeologist from the University College Cork in Ireland.  It was his first visit to the site, which he called one of the most impressive he’s ever seen. He insisted on the need to conserve it.

“This has a relevance beyond Colombia,” he said, “because the story of Ciudad Perdida is of a vibrant, impressive culture that was wiped out by contact with Europeans… We owe it to the dead generations, and also to their descendants who still inhabit the area today, to tell more about the story of what happened there.”

 

See more news at Global Heritage Fund's Heritage on the Wire.

_________________________________

Cover Photo, Top Left: View of the center area of Ciudad Perdida ("Lost City") in north-eastern Colombia. Wanderingstan, Wikimedia Commons

Photo, Second From Top, Right: An ancient stone stairway winds up to the ceremonial/feasting platforms of Ciudad Perdida's core area. Photo courtesy Global Heritage Fund
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Britney Shubert
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« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2012, 12:53:24 am »

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Britney Shubert
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« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2012, 12:53:56 am »

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By Heritage on the Wire

Heritage on the Wire is the official news blog of the Global Heritage Fund, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving endangered World Heritage Sites in developing countries to improve lives of local people. GHF enables successful, long-term preservation of the developing world’s most important archaeological sites and ancient townscapes, creating new opportunities for economic growth.

http://popular-archaeology.com/issue/september-2012/article/ciudad-perdida-the-lost-city-finds-international-attention
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Britney Shubert
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« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2012, 12:54:33 am »

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