Who Were Those People? Mysteries in San Agustín, Colombia

For a long time, I felt that there was no more mystery in the world. That everything that could ever be known was, well, known. And thanks to the internet, everything was just a few Google searches away.

San Agustín proved me wrong.

San Agustín is a little town in the south of Colombia. It’s not extrememly popular with backpackers but it does tempt some people. Basically, there are 2 types of travellers who go to San Agustín:

1) Those who are there to do the not-so-secret “special tour” which I’ll tell you about another time 

and

2) Those who are there to visit a UNESCO archaeological site.

We went for the archaeological site to see the mysterious monuments left behind by an even more mysterious group of people.

And it’s there that I was reminded that yes, there’s still plenty of mystery in this world!

in the museum
in the archaeological park

There are hundreds of these statues. And none of them are the same.

Get this: nobody knows who made these rock carvings! Despite having left behind a plethora of evidence of their existence, an entire group of people — an entire Andean culture that existed from the 1st to the 8th century — is completely unknown to the modern world. 

How cool is that?!

Personally, I think it’s incredible. How is it possible that nobody has a clue who these people were? It makes me feel giddy, almost childlike with wonder! 

  

The town itself is tiny, but we managed to keep ourselves busy, hanging out, horseback riding, and visiting the Parque Arqueologico with our new friends Steve and Laura from The World is a Playground. 

bottom left: Steve and Laura — Middle: random family that wanted a picture with us — Right: Matt and Cynthia

In the picture above, we’re hanging out on top of a children’s burial site. Typing that out loud makes me realize how morbid it is, but at the time, it was hilarious because…

…a random man came up to the 4 of us and said something about a picture. None of us understood what he was saying, but Matt thought the guy was asking if we wanted him to take a picture of us. Matt said no. We weren’t doing anything spectacularlay interesting that warranted a picture at that point in time. 

Then the guy said something else and held out his camera. All of the sudden, his big ol’ family appeared. 

It was then that I realized he wanted to take a picture of us with his family! Ha. I said sure because why not, eh?!

Though this seemed like a pretty normal thing for them, it was weird for us. I felt like a zoo animal, an attraction if you will. We all did. 

Then I flipped the tables and asked the man to take the same picture but with my phone. He looked at me like I was mental. LOL

We like to think that we’re framed and hanging on his wall. 

About San Agustín Archaeological Park

“The largest group of religious monuments and megalithic sculptures in South America stands in a wild, spectacular landscape. Gods and mythical animals are skilfully represented in styles ranging from abstract to realist. These works of art display the creativity and imagination of a northern Andean culture that flourished from the 1st to the 8th century.” – From UNESCO.org

So there you go, we went looking for mystery and found it in more ways than one! We’ll never know why that family wanted a picture with us — but maybe one day someone will figure out who the tribe was that left all those monuments. 

— Cyn

4 thoughts to “Who Were Those People? Mysteries in San Agustín, Colombia”

  1. I love your photos of the stone carvings. Really remarkable art and so mysterious. Glad they still remain intact and can afford such joy to travellers like you and Matt. Truly a UNESCO heritage site.

    The group photo with the family was cute and makes for a nice diversion. Much better than the photo taken of me holding a sloth in Columbia, many years ago. It cost me a $1. However, I must say we picked up the best coffee we ever tasted, in Columbia. Hope you have a bit of room in your back packs for some!

  2. I find it kind of sad that they left such a spectacular legacy but we can’t put it into the context of their culture since we know nothing else about them.

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