Short on time?

Get essay writing help

The Legend of El Dorado: Analytical Essay

Words: 1318
Pages: 3

Cite This Essay

This essay sample was donated by a student to help the academic community. Papers provided by EduBirdie writers usually outdo students' samples.

Many of us have at least once heard of an ancient legend. As kids, we have heard mention a few, and who doesn’t love a legend with a bit of mystery to it. There are some legends that date back as far as 800AD. The early creation of these legends is what makes it consequently difficult for one to trace, since it is passed on by word of mouth from one generation to the next. Like the ancient legend of El Dorado, that with no doubt would catch the attention of any treasure hunter in no time. Today the legend of El Dorado is mostly known as an unfortunate myth and a symbol of greed. Still, even till today there are treasure hunters on the hunt for it.

El Dorado, known as the lost city of gold, is an ancient legend that takes place in South America and originated in Colombia. To many it is considered a legend, a myth, a campfire story but to others like treasure hunters and explorers they still hang on to the belief that the legend is true. If you’re asking yourself why people would want to believe this ancient legend to be true, well that would be thanks to the facts and findings that have been found related to the El Dorado legend. There have been many explorers who have even lost their lives in the search of this prestigious city of gold. So, let’s take it back to the very beginning of how this legend came to life.

The Colombian legend of treasure begins with the Muisca Confederation. In the Wikipedia article of the Muisca Confederation it mentions how the Muisca tribe are known to be one of the well-organized tribes of Colombia. How they were also one of the four advanced civilizations of the Americas and they were best known for the skills they had of working gold. They were the inhabitants of the central Andean highlands of Colombia and that was before the Spanish conquest of the Northern South America. The Muisca tribe was a loose confederation with several rulers that consisted of the Zaques, Zipas, Iraca, and the Tundama. However, out of the four rulers there was one in specific that stood out the most, that was the tribal chief the Zipa.

In the article “The Muisca Raft” on the Vintage News by David Goran he gives us an idea of how the Zipas ceremony ritual took place. He explains that the very well-known ceremony ritual took place when a new Zipa ruler was crowned. When a leader died within the Muisca tribe the new chief to be acknowledged would be the nephew of the previous chief. He mentions “stories indicate that during initiation ceremonies their chiefs would be covered in gold dust and taken to the center of Lake Guatavita on a raft. Once in the center he would throw precious items made of gold and gems as an offering to the gods.” (David Goran)

Save your time!
We can take care of your essay
  • Proper editing and formatting
  • Free revision, title page, and bibliography
  • Flexible prices and money-back guarantee
Place Order

However, in the article by Visit Colombia Co: Feel the Rhythm, we get more detail picture wise of the ceremony. The article mentions how on the day of the ceremony braziers with burning Indian incense would be placed at the edge of the Guatavita lake to hide the light of day. That the young chief would then get undressed and cover his body in a mixture of gold dust and soil. Once done, he would get on a raft and stand in the very center of it with immense amounts of gold and emeralds at his feet with his people circling around him. The Zipas would then sail off to the lake where the chief would throw himself into the water with his offerings and offer the gold pieces and emeralds to the Guatavita goddess in the middle of the lake. Once the ritual was done the raft would return to the edge of the lake where a party was held to honor the new chief and prince.

Even though the El Dorado legend begins in 800AD it wasn’t until the 15th century that the legend spread according to the article by Historic Mysteries “The Legend of El Dorado”. The article also mentions how the Spanish explorers where led by their greed when they heard of the stories of how the Zipa chief would submerge himself in the lake with his golden treasure. There was even a point in time where the greedy Spaniards attempted to drain Lake Guatavita in their search for this lost city of gold. However, in their attempt they failed because even though they found immense amounts of gold they were unable to reach the trove that presumably existed in the deepest end of the lake. Lastly, the article explains how just like the Spaniards others were on the hunt for example, Sir Walter Raleigh. In fact, at the end of the 1500s people thought Sir Walter had found the actual treasure. They even marked it as a location in the north on the English maps, and it remained a credible location until the 1800s when an explorer by the name of Alexander Von Humbolt proved it to be otherwise.

In 1898 a limited company of contractors from London began an exploitation of the lagoon of Guatavita. They drained the lake by a tunnel that emerged in the center of it, with the drained water there was also up to 4ft of mud and slime. This made the exploitation a bit difficult since the heat of the sun would dry up the mud, making it be like concrete. Though they had difficulties, they managed to score artifacts that were worth up to 500 euros. Later, they were auctioned off at Sotheby’s, one of the world’s largest brokers of fine art. It was not until 1965 when the Colombian government decided to act and designate the Guatavita lake as a protected area. Meaning that all attempts to drain the lake and would be considered illegal. (“El Dorado,” n.d.)

Even though the Colombian government now protected the lake, findings of the El Dorado legend continued to pop up. Exactly three years later in 1969, three farmers found a golden raft sculpture in a cave in a small village located within the municipality of Pasca, Colombia. The golden sculpture represented the ceremony of the Zipas. The piece was in a shape of a log boat that had various figures on it, and exactly in the middle stood the largest figure which represented the chief. This golden sculpture is covered in an alloy containing pure gold with native silver and a small amount of copper. Unfortunately, the three farmers they were unable to keep the representative symbol of the Muisca raft statue. It was confiscated and set to be protected by the municipality priest which was then passed on to the Gold Museum of Bogota and to this day remains one of its major exhibition pieces. (“Muisca Raft,” n.d.)

Though it appears that we have enough evidence to explain the El Dorado legend, it is still yet to be found in South America. The question is that if it was to be found one day, would the world find out? Treasure hunting in the modern age has become more about monetary gain rather than it being a discovery of historical treasures. Dr. Jago Cooper even mentioned in a BBC article that. “El Dorado-inspired looting of gold has meant that the vast majority of precious pre-Colombian gold objects have been melted down and the real value of these artefacts as clues to the workings of an ancient culture have been lost forever.” Which explains why the El Dorado legend today is more of an unfortunate myth and more of a symbol of greed. Although, I hope that the interest in finding the lost city of gold “El Dorado” remains, if that’s not the case at least we still get to enjoy the mystery that this legend of historical treasure brings us.

Make sure you submit a unique essay

Our writers will provide you with an essay sample written from scratch: any topic, any deadline, any instructions.

Cite this Page

The Legend of El Dorado: Analytical Essay. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 24, 2023, from
“The Legend of El Dorado: Analytical Essay.” Edubirdie, 27 Sept. 2022,
The Legend of El Dorado: Analytical Essay. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 May 2023].
The Legend of El Dorado: Analytical Essay [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 27 [cited 2023 May 24]. Available from:
Join 100k satisfied students
  • Get original paper written according to your instructions
  • Save time for what matters most
hire writer

Fair Use Policy

EduBirdie considers academic integrity to be the essential part of the learning process and does not support any violation of the academic standards. Should you have any questions regarding our Fair Use Policy or become aware of any violations, please do not hesitate to contact us via

Check it out!
search Stuck on your essay?

We are here 24/7 to write your paper in as fast as 3 hours.