Archaeology Magazine

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Locals Block Removal of Pre-Columbian Statues

Friday, December 06, 2013

San Agustin Tomb deity Statue BOGOTÁ, COLOMBIA—Angry villagers have blocked the removal of 20 megalithic statues from San Agustín Archaeological Park in southern Colombia. Authorities intended to remove the objects for a temporary exhibit in Bogotá marking the 100th anniversay of the site's discovery. But locals, many of whom make their living from tourism at the site, worried that once the statues were taken away they would never be returned. Archaeologists working at the site have excavated some 600 stautes depicting deities and mythological beasts, but many of those have been taken away, including 35 that were shipped to Berlin by San Agustín's original excavator, German Konrad Preuss. Locals blocked roads and prevented workers from loading the statues onto trucks. Museum officials went ahead with the exhibit, opening it with highlighted, empty spaces were the statues would have stood.