Astonishment. Perhaps this is the word that best describes what visitors to the Calima Darién Archaeological Museum feel. This small archaeological jewel is located in southwestern Colombia, in the center of the Department of Valle del Cauca. The museum was founded in 1981 and is the only place with scientifically collected pieces that also serves as a research center for archaeologists.

The museum covers an area of 15,000 square meters and houses close to 2,500 pieces from various pre-Hispanic cultures and societies from the Colombian southwest, especially the Calima Darién area, which is especially important due to the number of informal diggers that operate in the area.

The Calima Culture

The four societies that occupied the region were, successively, the Ilama, Yocoto, Sonso and Malagana.

The Calima culture is the name given to a series of cultures that inhabited the Department of Valle del Cauca, although never simultaneously. Four societies occupied the region in succession: Ilama, Yotoco, Sonso, and Malagana.

The Ilama and Yotoca cultures shared several features: similar shapes in ceramics and the use of hammering and embossing for their goldwork. However, there are important differences.

Ilama Culture

The ceramics from this period are characterized by the use of two colors: red and black. In the field of cosmogonical representation, their mythical characters were depicted in ceramics.

Yotoco Culture

The Yotoco potmakers increased the range of colors in ceramics by the use of polychrome paint. Gold objects were much more common than during the Ilama period. No cosmogonical representations have been found in ceramics.

Sonso Culture

The numer of shapes in ceramics was not very numerous during this period; metal objects were also scarce. Goldwork was of a lesser quality compared to previous cultures, due to the fact that it was mixed with copper. There was an abrupt change in techniques: hammering gave way to casting.

Malagana Culture

The Malagana ceramic work is fine and polished. Ocarinas, vessels for collecting and storing liquids, and alcarrazas (globe-shaped pitchers with two spouts and a handle bridge) stand out. White and terracotta predominate.

Visit to the Calima Darién Archaeological Museum

The museum offers not only a tour through its halls, but a trip through 10,000 years of history. A guided visit may be complemented by:

  • A walk through the gardens to observe replicas of pre-Hispanic dwellings that recreate the life conditions of ancient cultures in various periods.
  • Projections of videos.
  • Participation in theme conferences and workshops.
  • Visit to a small 100-people theater or an event salon for 25 people.