Why would anyone leaving a sign above a sink with a warning that femurs should not be washed? Probably only in an archaeology laboratory at the University of the Andes in Bogotá. I was visiting the labs with two archaeologists at the university, Elizabeth and Luis, who showed me some of the work they are undertaking with human remains from the pre-Columbian period: burial chambers, sarcophagi and what not. They also showed us around the Museo de Oro, a fabulous museum containing more gold than anyone will ever need. I am not big on gold, but some of the craftsmanship of the work was extraordinary. I was more struck by the section on shamanism, the images of animal transformation and artefacts associated with the use of hallucinogenic plants, with which many of the indigenous people of the region have been closely associated.
The figure below, a pre-Columbian anticipation of Rodin’s Thinker – the elongated head apparently indicates status, but could equally well be the result of ingesting too many of the aforementioned hallucinogens – was particularly striking.
Finally, on a not unrelated theme, a nice piece of street graffiti from Bogotá advertising a ‘Carnaval Cannabico’, in which we might safely guess that very little got done.