The Herrera Period in the history of Colombia

Dolmen at El Infiernito, site from the Herrera Period

The Herrera Period, an era in Colombian History, is a rich part of the Andean ceramic and preceramic, time equivalent of the North American pre-Columbian classic and formative stages and age dated by many archaeologists. The Herrera Period predates the Muisca era, which occupied the Altiplano Cundiboyacense before the Spanish invasion of the Muisca and post-dates the region’s prehistory in Colombia. The Herrera Period is usually characterized as ranging from 1000 BCE to 800 CE, although some new scholars date it as early as 1500 BCE.


The Herrea Period region and later Muisca Confederation, the Altiplano Cundiboyacense, the central Colombian Andes’ high plateau, has been near-constantly inhabited for 12,400 years. The earliest evidence for lithic tools (inhabitation) is found in Tequendama and El Abra. This lithic period is approximately characterized as from 12,400 BCE to 1000 BCE. Later sites are Checua and Aguazuque.

Agriculture began around 5000 years before the present, leading to the evolution and development of more complex societies, of which the Herrera Era is one of many in the Andean civilizations. An early sign of inhabitation has been found in Zipacón and is recorded at 3270 BCE.. From the Herrera Period, mysterious ceramic has been found. The oldest ceramic evidence discovered dates to 500 BCE, except for one piece discovered near Tocarema and dated at 750 BCE.


The Herrera Period is named after Laguna de la Herrera ( Lake Herrera), where famous archaeologist Silvia Broadbent performed the Herrera Period’s first excavations in 1971 CE. Lake Herrera is one of the old Lake Humboldt remnants, a mysterious Pleistocene lake that lived on the Ancient Bogotá savanna. The lake, with a rough surface area of 30,000,000 sq ft (280 hectares), is located at an altitude of 8,370 ft (2,550 meters) within the Cundinamarca boundaries municipality Mosquera close to Bojacá and Madrid. The site of Laguna de la Herrera (Lake Herrera) is adjecent to the Aguazuque archaeological site.

Archaeological sites

Amazing archaeological evidence of the Herrera Era has been discovered in many places on the Altiplano Cundiboyacense, among others in Soacha, Usme, Sopó, Gámeza, Iza, Moniquirá (El Infiernito), Facatativá (Piedras del Tunjo Archaeological Park), Chita, Chía, Soatá, Chiscas, Sativasur, Jericó, Sativanorte, Covarachía and El Cocuy.

The mystical site in Soacha is one of the most significant finds from the Herrera Period, dating from 400 BCE onwards, into the next Muisca age. The remains of 2200 individual people are over 270 full ceramic pots, stone tools, seeds of maize, cotton, Curuba, and beans, 600+ intact and fragmented spindles, and over 100 tunjos not used for offerings have been discovered in Soacha.

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