National Geographic : 1949 Mar
On Panama's Drawn by Theodora P. Thompson and Irvin E. Alleman Pacific Coast, National Geographic Society-Smithsonian Archeologists Unearth Evidence of Rich Indian Civilization Near Parita, named for a powerful chief who ruled the Azuero Peninsula before the Spanish conquest, the Panama Expedition made important finds. Monagrillo's shell mounds, near the mouth of the Parita River, revealed the oldest village site yet found in Panama. From Parita the scientists journeyed westward to Ocii, Tole, and the Tambor region to visit the Guaymi and other tribes in their isolated mountain homes. Breaking into the house where his body lay in state, the Spaniards obtained one of the richest hauls of loot ever recovered. Among the elaborate burial wrappings they found 355 pounds of gold ornaments. Lashed to the house posts by cords tied around their throats were 20 Indian captives who had been destined to be buried alive with the great chieftain. The burial rites of these Indians were un usually elaborate. After the death of an im portant chief, funeral ceremonies lasted for two days. During this period his wives and household attendants were prepared for burial with him. Wives and Servants Buried Alive A deep pit was dug, with a bench along the sides at the bottom. During the two-day cere mony, the wives of the chief-sometimes ten or a dozen-sat on the bench in the grave and were plied with chicha, a fermented corn drink, until they were thoroughly intoxicated. When the body of the chief had been placed in the grave, his servants and captives were put in with the wives, and the grave was filled.