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Ancient Tomb Filled With Gold Treasure Discovered in Panama

gold treasure Panama
The gold treasure was discovered at a tomb in Panama. Credit: Panama Culture Ministry

Researchers have uncovered an ancient lord’s tomb filled with gold treasure —and sacrificial victims— at an archaeological park in Panama, officials revealed last week.

The tomb, estimated to be about 1,200 years old, marks the area where an elite chief was buried along with possibly dozens of people who died to accompany him to the “beyond,” the nation’s culture ministry said in a news release.

Inside the grave at El Caño Archaeological Park, scientists discovered an array of gold treasures, including bracelets, two belts made with gold beads, crocodile-shaped earrings, gold-covered sperm whale teeth earrings and circular gold plates.

Archaeologists also unearthed earrings in the shape of a man and a woman, two bells, skirts made with dog teeth, and a set of bone flutes.

The grave likely belonged to a high-status chief from the local Coclé culture who was in his 30s, the El Caño Foundation said in a Facebook post.

Related: The Ancient Greek Woman Buried With Her Gold Jewelry

Gold tomb in Panama contains up to 31 other people

Dr. Julia Mayo, director of the foundation and leader of the archaeological project, said that in addition to the lord, the tomb also contains up to 31 other people who were “sacrificed to serve as companions.”

Mayo said the excavation of the burial site was not yet complete so it could not be determined how many people were in the tomb. She said the lord had been buried face down, which was typical of this type of burial, on top of the body of a woman.

Linette Montenegro, national director of heritage at the Ministry of Culture, said that excavation at the archaeological park began in 2022. Montenegro said that the gold and artifacts found in the tomb “have not only economic value but also incalculable historical and cultural value.”

El Caño Archaeological Park was a necropolis that was built around 700 AD and abandoned around 1000 AD, the ministry said. It is located in Coclé province, about 100 miles southwest of Panama City.

Over the last century, archaeologists have been discovering several pre-Columbian burial sites at this location.

These burial sites have helped researchers gain a better understanding of the dynamic system of the Hierarchical (Hierarchy) chiefdom-based societies created by the people who lived in this region of Central America before contact with Europeans.

The first discovery at El Caño was made in 1925 when an American adventurer named Hyatt Verrill dug up three skeletons in the area. Verril was attracted to the area after finding several unusually shaped rocks (which would turn out to be ancient monoliths) sticking out of the ground while he was walking along the banks of the Rio Grande River (in Panama).

Related: Gold Jewelry Discovered at Ancient Tomb in Egypt

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