Sites & cities that bear the name of Alto de Lavapatas

Alto de Lavapatas

Today in : Colombia
First trace of activity : ca. 3,400 B.C.E
Last trace of activity : ca. 10th century C.E

Description : The San Agustín culture is one of the ancient Pre-Columbian cultures of Colombia. Its beginnings go back at least to the fourth millennium B.C. Several hundred large monolithic sculptures have been found here. The origins of San Agustín culture go back to the thirty-third century BCE. A radiocarbon date of 3300±120 B.C. has been obtained for the Lavapatas site. The chronology of the culture is divided into the following periods: the Archaic, the Formative, the Regional Classic Period (1-900 A.D.), and the Recent Period. Similarly to the other parts of the Colombian Southwest, during the Archaic period, the inhabitants of the area already used various crops of wild origin. These were small groups of 15-25 people that frequently moved their camps. For their tools, they used stone and organic raw materials such as bone and shells. The polished stone axes with handle are similar to those of the Calima Valley. Small arrowheads and mortars are also similar to those of Popayán and Valle del Cauca. The beginning of the Formative Period was during 1000-600 BC. At that time, there was widespread sedentary occupation near the fertile agricultural lands. Ceramics were already being produced. Corn, beans, quinua, manioc and yam were being planted. The dead were buried in shaft tombs located near their houses. During the Regional Classic Period (1-900 AD), great earth mounds were built. They covered funerary dolmens that used large slabs. These were marked by stone statues of mythological beings. Nevertheless, these tombs had rather few offerings. The ceramics were relatively crude and poorly decorated. Yet a very elaborate and technologically complex goldwork was being produced. The Recent Period was during 900-1350 A.D. The population increased yet further. The systems of drainage channels and earthworks indicate that agriculture was actually intensified at this time. The greatest flowering of San Agustín culture seems to have taken place from the 8th to the 1st century BC. The ancient inhabitants who built the stone monuments abandoned the area by the 14th and 15th centuries AD. The reasons for this are unclear. The neighbouring Tierradentro culture is related to San Agustín culture.

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