The Arqueological Compound of Panama La Vieja

Approximately two miles from the Panama City center are found the archeological compound of the first city of Panama known as “Panama La Vieja” or Old Panama, founded in 1519 by Pedrarias Davila.  Fragments of walls and arches stand in an open park, recalling the splendor of the Spaniard’s first settlement on the Pacific Ocean.  From here, expeditions were mounted to conquer the Inca Empire of South America.  All of the wealth from Peru and Chile flowed to Spain through Old Panama.  Not surprisingly, the enormous quantities of gold attracted pirates like sharks to Panama’s water.  When Henry Morgan looted the city in 1671, Panama’s governor ordered the powder magazine burned, and the whole city went up in flames.  the capital was moved two miles to the west, and present-day Panama city was founded in 1673.  The most impressive structures remaining are the cathedral, that you can climb and have an amazing view of the City and market.   This is one of the spots not to missed if you visit our City.



ImageArchaeologists from Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama have uncovered a cache of unusual stones in a prehistoric Rock shelter known as Casa de Piedra.

The twelve stones were found buried and clustered tightly together in a way that suggests they were stored in a bundle or basked which has decomposed since.

The cache consists of a small Dacite stone fashioned into a cylindrical tool; a small flake of white, translucent Quartz; a bladed Quartz and Jarosite aggregate; a Quartz crystal aggregate; several Pyrite nodules that showed evidence of use; a small, worn and abraded piece of Chalcedony; a magnetic Andesite flake; a large Chalcedony vein stone; and a small magnetic Kaolinite stone naturally eroded into an unusual shape, similar to a flower. This unusual selection and careful storage strongly suggests that these stones were once used by a Shaman or healer.

Indigenous groups who lived in the area during the time the stones were stored there include  Ngäbe, Buglé, Bribri, Cabécar and the now-extinct Dorasque peoples. Healers and Shamans of these and other cultures are known to feature unusual or special stones and crystals in their rituals.

The rock shelter itself has been known to archaeologists since the 1970s, who established that it was used for cooking and stone tool manufacture, possibly as early as 9,000 years ago and that it had been used by humans for thousands of years since then. The newest research shows that the people who would have benefitted from the shaman’s knowledge  practiced small-scale farming of manioc, maize and arrowroot, and collected palm nuts, fruits and roots. They also probably hunted and fished in the nearby hills and streams, but the humid soils in the shelter destroyed any evidence of animal bones.

From: Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute. Photos from STRIImage