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Muisca Culture


Gold Art Work of the Muisca (El Museo del Oro, Bogota, Colombia)

Gold Art Work of the Muisca (El Museo del Oro, Bogota, Colombia)

Ana Rincon
Definition: The Muisca culture were people who lived in the eastern highland savanna of the modern country of Colombia from about AD 1000-1538. The first archaeological evidence of chiefdom level organization dates to the 11th century AD, when the Muisca could be described as small, independent settlements. By the beginning of the 13th century, the Musica had a more centralized organization with a clearly two-tiered level of settlement sizes.

The Muisca were raised field farmers who built stone monuments. Important cities to the Muisca included Bogotá, Tunja, Candelaria La Nueva, and Mosquera. Recent investigations have been conducted at the site of Suta, in the Leyva valley, as by Henderson and Ostler.

Today the Muisca, like the related culture the Quimbaya, are best known for their fabulous gold work, as seen in the photograph from el Museo del Oro in Bogotá.


Henderson, Hope and Nicholas Ostler 2005 Muisca settlement organization and chiefly authority at Suta, Valle de Leyva, Colombia: A critical appraisal of native concepts of house for studies of complex societies. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 24(2):148-178.

This glossary entry is part of the Dictionary of Archaeology.

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