As regards archaeology, the region houses important evidence that can serve to increase knowledge about the country’s Pre-Columbian and colonial past; thus, constituting a fundamental part of Colombia’s archaeological heritage. Despite the systematic plundering of Pre-Columbian tombs during the Antioquian colonization—which in the beginning made the region famous for its archaeological wealth—,today investigation projects and prevention measures taken against the destruction of archaeological heritage are of paramount importance in protecting and appreciating these attributes.
There are currently several archaeological investigation groups working in the region, the most important being the Universidad de Caldas Museums Centre, the Universidad Tecnológica de Pereira Laboratory of Historical Ecology and Cultural Heritage, and the Quindío and Valle universities leading the scientific studies of the rich archaeological heritage of the PCC. These entities emphasize studies in areas that are under the threat of destruction due to infrastructure macroprojects, and are supported by the State’s regulations for the protection of archaeological heritage.
This has favoured the regional archaeology and as a result of these projects much first hand information has been discovered about the region’s pre-Hispanic past. Preventative measures for the protection of archaeological heritage are also beginning to be introduced in territorial planning schemes.
Museums in the region display part of the archaeological pieces from grave plundering and information Gathered thanks to recent scientific research. In their commitment to recuperate archaeological heritage, some of the following entities have made inventories of the collections and put forward projects to have these collections registered with the Colombian Institute of Anthropology and History in compliance with Colombia’s Law of Culture. Following are some of the most important collections that exist in the PCC municipalities:
- The Archaeological Collection of the Universidad de Caldas Museums Centre—previously known as the Anthropologic Museum—which has housed one of the most important and representative samples of objects from the Quimbaya region, since 1945. The collection is made up of over 4,000 ceramic and lithic pieces, some gold objects (Tumbaga ), and some bone remains. The pieces are outstanding examples of technique and style and the collection is testimony of the works of several pre-Hispanic groups that inhabited the region.
The Gold Museum, belonging to the Banco de la República, which—through the Quimbaya Museum in Armenia and the Cultural Zone in Manizales—exhibits numerous gold and ceramic pieces “that demonstrate the technical complexity, and the aesthetic and symbological quality of the objects produced by the region’s ancestral dwellers” (López et al, 2008).
The Universidad del Quindío has an important archaeological collection that stands out in terms of the quality and beauty of the ceramic pieces.
The pieces housed in the Eliseo Bolívar Museum in Belén de Umbría, are registered with the Colombian Institute of Anthropology and History- ICANH.
Dr. Marino Alzate Ospina’s collection donated to the Aranzazu Town Hall.
The Cultural Centre in Salamina has an impressive collection of ceramics, particularly engraved brown funeral urns associated to the earlier formative periods in the region.
In Belalcázar, the first floor of The Cristo Rey monument contains an archaeological collection, whereas the Cultural Centre has a variety of lithic pieces.
The Museo Nacional del Sombrero, in Aguadas, has an Indigenous Hall containing ethnographic pieces.
The collection in the Museum of Arts and Traditions in Riosucio.
Other collections housed in the cultural centres in Apía, Balboa, La Celia, Marsella, Palestina, Quinchía, Salamina and Santuario.
Table 1 presents the number of objects in some of the aforementioned collections:
Inventories of archaeological objects in available collections – PCC Principal Area