Preserve the El Cano Archaeological Park & museum

by Fundacion El Cano
Preserve the El Cano Archaeological Park & museum
Preserve the El Cano Archaeological Park & museum
Preserve the El Cano Archaeological Park & museum
Preserve the El Cano Archaeological Park & museum
Preserve the El Cano Archaeological Park & museum
Preserve the El Cano Archaeological Park & museum
Preserve the El Cano Archaeological Park & museum
Preserve the El Cano Archaeological Park & museum
Preserve the El Cano Archaeological Park & museum
Preserve the El Cano Archaeological Park & museum
Preserve the El Cano Archaeological Park & museum
Preserve the El Cano Archaeological Park & museum
Preserve the El Cano Archaeological Park & museum
Preserve the El Cano Archaeological Park & museum
Preserve the El Cano Archaeological Park & museum
Preserve the El Cano Archaeological Park & museum
Preserve the El Cano Archaeological Park & museum
Preserve the El Cano Archaeological Park & museum
Preserve the El Cano Archaeological Park & museum
Preserve the El Cano Archaeological Park & museum
Preserve the El Cano Archaeological Park & museum
Preserve the El Cano Archaeological Park & museum
Preserve the El Cano Archaeological Park & museum
Preserve the El Cano Archaeological Park & museum
Preserve the El Cano Archaeological Park & museum
Preserve the El Cano Archaeological Park & museum
Preserve the El Cano Archaeological Park & museum
Preserve the El Cano Archaeological Park & museum
Preserve the El Cano Archaeological Park & museum
Preserve the El Cano Archaeological Park & museum
Preserve the El Cano Archaeological Park & museum
Preserve the El Cano Archaeological Park & museum
Preserve the El Cano Archaeological Park & museum
Preserve the El Cano Archaeological Park & museum
Preserve the El Cano Archaeological Park & museum
Preserve the El Cano Archaeological Park & museum
Preserve the El Cano Archaeological Park & museum
Preserve the El Cano Archaeological Park & museum

Project Report | Mar 12, 2024
Richest tomb to date discovered in the El Cano Necropolis

By Alexa Hancock | Globalgiving project leader

Dr. Mayo showing finds to the Minister of Culture
Dr. Mayo showing finds to the Minister of Culture

On February 26th, the Fundación El Caño team discovered the primary burial of tomb T9 in the El Caño Necropolis. The male, estimated to be between 30-40 years of age, was found surrounded by grave goods in what is the richest tomb discovered in the El Caño Necropolis to date. Aside from the literal riches found buried with the lord of the tomb, whom archaeologists have named the Lord of the Flutes, the tomb also is yielding much new information.

The Lord of the Flutes was buried with grave goods that included seven different gold breast plates of varying sizes and designs, six gold bracelets, two belts made of gold beads, adornments of small gold plates and beads, a gold pendant depicting a man, a gold pendant depicting a woman, pendants made from sperm whale teeth and resin, and countless perforated dog and shark teeth. In addition, there were hundreds, if not thousands, beautiful and well-preserved ceramics.

Preliminary findings indicate that this male could have been of high-status without being a warrior. The Lord of the Flutes seems more like a religious leader than a military chief, having been buried with objects such as flutes and bells and not with warrior goods such as axes, spears and objects made with teeth of large predators as have been found in  tombs  of other lords of this same necropolis. This calls attention to the importance of religion in this society. It will take time to research and identify the iconography of the breast plates and decipher their meaning in order to confirm the role of this individual.

The complexity of the ritual liturgy, the well-structured organization of the funerary space, and the presence of rich tombs of infants next to those of adults, indicate that El Caño, Gran Coclé cultural region (750-1000 CE), in the current Republic of Panama, was a necropolis of one of the small kingdoms of the Isthmo-Colombian Region, probably of Chibcha lineage, whose rulers governed a complex society with great social inequalities.

As archaeological research, excavations, and study of materials from the necropolis of El Caño progress, it seems to be more evident that the veneration and commemoration of ancestors was a central aspect of religious beliefs in El Caño. We have been able to trace certain analogies with the patterns of ancestor veneration rites observed in the Mayan and Andean areas. In the Llanos de Coclé, between 750 and 1100 A.D. Some families appropriated the conceptual logic and ritual practice of ancestor veneration, which at first were only domestic acts, with the intention of reclaiming territory and controlling the most productive agricultural lands, for which they built at least two necropolises on both banks of the Río Grande, Sitio Conte and El Caño.

The excavation season, which officially began on January 10, 2024, was conducted with the participation of archaeology students from the University of Panama and the Autonomous University of Chiriqui. They were introduced to the excavation protocols and the tools used, such as the Total Station and creating site recordings and registries. Volunteers were also given training and participated in the excavation.

One form of archaeological site recording is scale drawings of the contours of the stratigraphic units. Students from the University of Panama (Panama City campus) - Elías and Gabriel, and Universidad Autónoma de Chiriquí student Tiara - worked together on these drawings. As part of the process, they established a spatial reference line and a tape measure along the longitudinal axis of the feature to be drawn and with the help of a second tape measure and a plumb line they measured the distance at different heights between the reference axis and the contour of the unit and placed objects found within the area in the appropriate place on the scale diagram.

Another student from the University of Panama (Penonome Campus), also named Gabriel, worked on cleaning the artifacts and taking the site control photographs of all artifacts recovered.

As the first month of excavation was coming to an end, project director Dr. Julia Mayo determined it was necessary to extend the excavation another month. It was becoming evident the tomb was much more extensive than originally thought.

While the excavation was ongoing, many visitors came to the El Caño Archaeolgical Park and Museum to witness the investigation in person. These included people from other countries such as Germany, Mexico, Canada and the United States.  Young people and their parents and other members of the community of El Caño and the surrounding area, came in a visit coordinated with the health center of El Caño and the juvenile police unit  of the Panama National Police. They received a brief talk by Dr. Mayo about the excavation and its history. They also saw the newly excavated ceramics in tomb 9 and had the opportunity to see how team members sifted the soil from the tomb to ensure that no small artifacts were lost.

Students from St. Mary's School, Panama, visited El Caño Archaeological Park and Museum. They also listened to a presentation by Dr. Julia Mayo, and were gifted with a copy of the Fundación El Caño two-volume book "El Caño: Memorias de Excavación" for their school library.

The artifacts will need to be conserved and carefully studied. Ideally, they will then be exhibited for the general public to appreciate, with the relevant information accompanying them. An appropriate exhibition will take time and funds to develop.

In the meantime, Fundación El Caño team members will be continuing their research and determining how the current finds tie in with previous work and the ongoing research project initiated in 2023, related to confirming the origins of artifacts found in El Caño. A presentation of the initial findings is planned for later this year in Panama City.

excavating bottom level of tomb T9
excavating bottom level of tomb T9
Students working on scale diagrams with Dr. Mayo
Students working on scale diagrams with Dr. Mayo
A volunteer cleaning an artifact
A volunteer cleaning an artifact
A student cleaning and photographing materials
A student cleaning and photographing materials
Community members being shown ceramics
Community members being shown ceramics
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Nov 20, 2023
Final 2023 quarterly report

By Alexa Hancock | Project Leader

Jul 31, 2023
Fundacion El Cano-CIAI Quarterly Report

By Alexa Hancock | Project Leader

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Organization Information

Fundacion El Cano

Location: Clayton, Panama - Panama
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @Fundacion El Cano
Project Leader:
Alexa Hancock
Clayton , Panama
$9,933 raised of $90,000 goal
 
127 donations
$80,067 to go
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