Featured Artifacts: Quimbaya Ceramics
The Quimbaya culture, dated to about AD 300 - 1600, is best known for its fine goldwork. The culture was centered in the middle part of the Cauca River Valley in the highlands of Colombia about 100 km west of Bogotá. Since the Spanish conquest this region has been known for the abundance of gold objects found in prehistoric tombs. This has always attracted tomb robbers (known as huaqeros in the Andes).
Not much scientific archaeology has been done to investigate the people who made Quimbaya goldwork. They lived in densely populated villages which were located on level ridge tops and river terraces all over the valley. They grew maize (corn) and other crops, and buried their dead in tombs at the bottom of deep shafts.The ceramics from this area date mainly to the period AD 1000 to 1400 and are known as "Caldas Complex" ceramics. Two of the figurines in the SFU collection have rectangular heads, and are called "slab-headed" figurines by archaeologists. Most examples of these figurines come from tombs. They were meant to accompany the dead into the afterlife, and were probably made especially for that purpose.