Legacy of a Lost City

The Ecotopia 2121 project predicts the future of 100 super-ecofriendly cities across the globe -- as though they have survived climate change and gone on to flourish anew. Today, we highlight the future of El Dorado.


Every dozen years or so, a 'Lost City' is unearthed. Previously confined to legend, or to a few texts, or maybe completely forgotten altogether, Lost Cities re-emerge now and again to confront us with stories of how people lived in times past. Despite being shrouded in age-old mystery, Lost Cities are usually full of symbolic meaning for those living in the time when they are rediscovered. They tell stories of past Golden Ages and delight us with hitherto unknown forms of social life. For some, they reinforce fables about apocalypse; warning us that great civilizations can end up in oblivion. And in the era of the eco-catastrophe, where human extinction is entertained by serious minds, Lost Cities offer salutary warnings about demise and collapse.

In this scenario, the Lost City of El Dorado is stumbled upon again deep within the Colombian rainforest, re-emerging from myth into the reality. In myth, El Dorado was a City of Gold; dazzling golden temples filled with golden statues and gardens full of golden flowers. None of this is too far-fetched, at all, since the Pre-Columbian cities of the Aztecs and the Incas were viewed in the same way to the eyes and minds of Spanish conquistadores in the 16th Century.

However, when El Dorado is re-discovered, in 2121, hidden between the Andes and the Amazon, it reveals what was once a complex and unique society but there’s no gold at all lying within the city.

El Dorado 2121

Outside of the boundaries of the city, however, gold artwork aplenty is found submerged in nearby swamp-waters, lying at the bottom of lakes and rivers, and abandoned within caves. As archeological explorations proceed, El Dorado is revealed to be a city of the Muisca, an ethnic group who inhabited parts of Columbia before Europeans settled there. Large sections of the Muisca did not see gold as mere metal for exchange, or as way to display one's riches. Rather, it was spiritually-embodied sacred matter. And a way to make offerings back to Nature.

Nature was sacred, gold came from nature -- a gift-spirit from the sun god -- and back to nature it should be given.

For the complete story of El Dorado 2121, see the Ecotopia 2121 project book.


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