The Golden Raft of the Muisca and the myth of El Dorado
When the Spanish arrived in Muisca territory in the late 1530s, they found that everyone seemed to possess gold objects. Rumours spread far beyond the New World that there was a city of gold in the mountains: the legend of El Dorado was born. But El Dorado was a person, not a place. One Conquistador described a Muiscan chief being covered in gold dust, only to then wash it off in a lake. An exquisite artefact, discovered in a cave near Bogota and now displayed in the city's Museum of Gold, depicts a waterborne ceremony that hints at this version of the El Dorado story.