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Ancient Architects #History and Archaeology

The Malagana Treasure | 10 Million of Ancient Gold Looted

Back in the year 1992, a sugarcane farm employee was working in the fields at Hacienda Malagana, located in the Palmira municipality of Colombia’s fertile flatlands of the Cauca Valley. Driving a tractor and suddenly the ground gave way and the man and his machine fell into a deep hole.

Coming around from the shock on the incident, like a scene from Indiana Jones, he realised he was inside a hypogeum, surrounded by golden objects. Initially he told no-one and instead decided to start taking the valuable objects for himself.


What he had removed were priceless ancient gold artefacts from the burial tombs of a previously unknown indigenous culture of Colombia.


He began selling the objects but the secret of his newly found tomb wouldn’t be a secret for long, as other employees and locals learned about his discovery. Word spread far and wide and what followed was quite literally a looting frenzy.


In just three months, from October to December 1992, according to local newspapers, more than 5,000 people descended on the site in an event that the media called the Malagana Gold Rush. The whole site was plundered, as people wanted a piece of the treasure. One person was in even murdered in the frenzy.


It is estimated that anything from 180 kilograms, or around 400 pounds in weight of pre-Columbian gold artefacts were taken from the site to be either melted down or sold to collectors in what was described as the grandest haul since the original Conquistadores. And it wasn’t just one tomb that was plundered, hundreds were discovered, all of them robbed and destroyed.


Watch this video to learn about the story of the Malagana Gold Hoard, and to see some fascinating rare photographs of these ancient priceless artefacts that were nearly lost forever.

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