San Agustín Culture

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A regional chiefdom of farming communities living in the highlands of south Colombia in South America in the period 500 bc –ad 500. Over 30 sites are known, mostly dispersed hamlets, although some ceremonial centres have been recognized. Agriculture was intensive and involved terracing and small‐scale irrigation systems in the highlands. The ceremonial sites include earth mounds up to 30 m across, used for burials. Each mound contained galleries and tomb‐chambers built of stone slabs. The dead were placed in carved stone sarcophagi. Sculpture was also characteristic of the San Agustín Culture, mainly anthropogenic forms carved on boulders, in cliff faces, or as free‐standing pillars. The heads of these sculptures often have grimacing faces whose mouths reveal crossed fangs.

Subjects: Archaeology.

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