European Dolmens in Colombia - The Mysterious Ruins of San Augustin
The San Augustin region is located in the upper Magdalena River valley and is framed by the Central and Eastern Cordilleras, raising to 2000m (6560ft) high (1). There are several sites to explore in the San Augustin area covering some 250 square miles, but the most important one is Parque Archaeological, a 78-hectare site with around 130 statues on display. In the on-site museum, I was immediately struck by the likeness of the statues to some from Guatemala and the Olmec world, and even the ones in Chavin de Huantar, in Central Peru.
They were perfectly carved with exquisite skill and I soon discovered that the artistic signature was retained throughout the site and across several millennia. Whether they were carvings of 30-foot-tall Atlanteans, or tiny designs on intricate jewelry, this workmanship was of the highest order. The museum even had one particular statue that closely resembles an Easter Island Moai, suggesting there may have been trans-Pacific contact with the megalith builders there. Harold T. Wilkins in Secret Cities of Old South America said about the statues of San Augustin;
"There is more than a suggestion of the strange monuments found in Easter Island and other Polynesian and Micronesian Islands such as Ponape, Malden, Pitcairn and the Marquesas. Indeed, the ruins appear to antedate even the Andes!"
Some of the statues had incredible headdresses and many in fact looked Tiwanakan. The stone sarcophagi also has protruding 'buttons' like many of the sites in Peru and Bolivia, and looked similar to the Olmec ones on the Gulf Coast of Mexico. After photographing every artefact I could, I looked at three statues outside the museum, and the female cleaner pointed out the back of one of them, which clearly showed a huge Valentine 'heart'. I had no idea this was a symbol in use by the ancients.
Within a few minutes of walking up the path to the complex I was greeted by a monolith with two large serpents weaving around on it. This, I believe is the 'entrance stone' to the site and I wondered if this was a clue to the builders of the site as there are similar serpent carvings in Peru, Turkey (Gobekli Tepe), Egypt and within several other ancient cultures.
The most surprising aspect of the site was the European-looking dolmens or passage graves. They are exactly like the ones all over Europe and are built at a much deeper level than the other 'carved' stones on the site, and constructed with a different type of stone. It was as though the stone carving culture had stumbled upon this much older megalithic site and revered it to such a high degree, that they stayed there and built their temples next to it, even copying their style. There are also water channels and an amazing series of temples structures, but what became obvious as I explored the site was that the rough-hewn stones that made up the dolmens looked much older and were located at between 10 and 15 feet below the level of the classic San Augustin stonework.
Prehistoric Dolmen/Passage Grace
These look much older than the later carved monuments, and it is questionable if the original excavators placed the statues at the entrance to the older dolmens as if to hold them up. Originally they could have been 'classic' dolmens built by an earlier culture and these later reconstructions were unfortunately used all over the site. " But what was really the primary position of these statues ?" asked archaeologist and author Roger Joussaume, who quite rightly concludes in Dolmens for the Dead ; " It is not certain that they all stand today in their original positions " (ibid). The mix and match of the different constructions has left a confusing picture of the past here and even Serge Cassen, who was the first person to excavate the site said " one can conclude absolutely nothing, despite the interpretations of Colombian scholars, about the collective or non-collective nature of the large monuments " (ibid). Whoever built them, an alleged British Museum expedition between 1899 - 1902, lost many of the more elaborate statues and original photos of the entire complex; " A boat was overturned in rapids on the Rio Patia, near Tumaco, and only one of the original statues, transported along the route of the Rio Magdalena, reached the British Museum " (2)
The other parts of the site are all equally weird; fanged statues with frowning eyes, bizarre looking animorph figures and strange little men, some with elongated skulls, like the ones I had seen in Bogota Gold Museum (and the ones in Peru, Bolivia, Mexico etc).