Eliécer Silva Celis

Eliécer Silva Celis (Floresta, Colombia, 20 January 1914 - Sogamoso, 4 July 2007) was a Colombian anthropologist, archaeologist, professor and writer.[1] He is considered a pioneer in the anthropology of Colombia.[3] Silva Celis is known in Colombia for the reconstruction of the Sun Temple, the most important temple of the Muisca religion.


Eliécer Silva Celis
Eliécer Silva Celis - 1914-2007.jpg
Portrait of Silva Celis in his museum
Born(1914-01-20)January 20, 1914
DiedJuly 4, 2007(2007-07-04) (aged 93)
Sogamoso, Colombia
Known forArchaeology, anthropology, mummies, Sun Temple
Spouse(s)Lilia Montaña Barrera †
ChildrenMiguel, Luis Guillermo, Margarita, Jaime Silva
Scientific career
FieldsArchaeology & anthropology of the Muisca
The Sun Temple of Suamox has been reconstructed by Eliécer Silva Celis

Eliécer Silva Celis has published many books and articles about the Muisca and other indigenous groups of Colombia, only in Spanish.[4]


Silva Celis rediscovered the archaeoastronomical site El Infiernito and created the Archaeological Park around it
A Muisca mummy was donated to Eliécer Silva Celis in 1962
The rock art of Sáchica has been studied by Silva Celis

Eliécer Silva Celis was born in Tobasía, vereda of Floresta, Boyacá on January 20, 1914. He became an orphan at young age and worked as street vendor and at the construction of the railway of Antioquia.[1]

In 1937, at age 23, Silva Celis managed to finish his secondary education. The same year he entered the Escuela Normal Superior de Colombia in Bogotá, where Silva Celis got to know later famous people who fled the Nazis in Europe: Paul Rivet, Rudolf Hommes, Justus W. Schottellius, José Francisco Socarras, Gregorio Hernández de Alba and José de Recasens, among others. They taught Silva Celis ethnology, archaeology, physical anthropology, history, philosophy and linguistics.[1]

In 1942 Silva Celis uncovered a Muisca cemetery with indigenous tombs in the Mochacá neighbourhood in Sogamoso. He found Muisca mummies and could establish the precise location where the Temple of the Sun of the Muisca had been. The Temple, dedicated to Muisca Sun god Sué, was destroyed by soldiers in the army of Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada on September 4, 1537. When De Quesada's soldiers Miguel Sánchez and Juan Rodríguez Parra raided the Sun Temple in September 1537, they found mummies decorated with golden crowns and other objects sitting on raised platforms.[5] With the finding of the location of the temple, he founded the Parque Indígena del Sol, present-day site of the Archaeology Museum in Sogamoso. The museum hosts more than 5000 pieces of the Muisca civilisation. In this museum he also reconstructed the Sun Temple.[3] Later, Eliécer Silva Celis rediscovered El Infiernito, close to Villa de Leyva, an astronomical observatory of the Muisca. Silva Celis founded the Archaeological Park in Monquirá.[1]

In 1943, Eliécer Silva Celis found five skulls which were later dated to be between 8890 and 8630 years old.[6]

In 1944, Silva Celis studied the famous Tierradentro culture of Huila, findings from La Belleza in Santander and in the following years the Lache of the Sierra Nevada del Cocuy.[7]

The mummy from Sativanorte, named SO10-IX belongs to the collection of Silva Celis in the Archaeology Museum of Sogamoso. It has been studied in detail by various researchers.[8] The mummy has been donated to Silva Celis by Abraham López Ávila in 1962.[8] Interviews with López Ávila revealed that the mummy had been found by children in the vicinity of Sativanorte, Sativasur and Socotá on the western bank of the Chicamocha River.[9]

Silva Celis was co-founder of the UPTC in Tunja, Boyacá in 1953.[1] He served as rector of the university twice.[3] In 1966, Silva Celis studied Muisca stones found in Mongua, Boyacá.[10] Silva Celis has written more than 400 articles.[11]

Eliécer Silva Celis died on July 4, 2007 at an age of 93 years, after dedicating more than 60 years of his life to knowledge about the Muisca and other indigenous groups in Colombia.[1][3]


This list is a selection.[4]


  • 2006 - Estudios sobre la cultura chibcha
  • 1979 - Proyecto del parque arqueológico y botánico en villa de Leyva: sitio "El Infiernito"
  • 1968 - Arqueología y prehistoria de Colombia; [Bochica o Nemqueteba]
  • 1967 - Antiguedad de la civilizacin̤ Chibcha
  • 1966 - Las estatuas de la Salina de Mongua
  • 1945 - Contribucion al conocimiento de la civilización de los Lache


  • 1965 - Una inspeccion arqueologica por el alto Rio Minero
  • 1965 - Antigüedad y relaciones de la civilización Chibcha
  • 1963 - Los petroglifos de "El Encanto" - Florencia, Caquetá
  • 1963 - Movimiento de la civilización agustiniana sobre el alto Amazonas
  • 1962 - Pinturas rupestres precolombinas de Sáchica, Valle de Leiva
  • 1951 - Investigación de antropología social en Tota, Boyacá
  • 1947 - Sobre arqueología y antropología Chibcha
  • 1946 - Cráneos de Chiscas


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g (in Spanish) Biography Eliécer Silva Celis - Pueblos Originarios
  2. ^ a b (in Spanish) Eliécer Silva Celis es el nuevo nombre del museo Arqueológico Suamox, de Sogamoso - El Tiempo
  3. ^ a b c d e (in Spanish) Falleció Eliécer Silva Celis, pionero de la antropología en Colombia y fundador del Museo de Suamox - El Tiempo
  4. ^ a b List of works by Eliécer Silva Celis - WorldCat
  5. ^ Rodríguez Cuenca, 2007, p.115
  6. ^ (in Spanish) Tras las huellas del boyacense más antiguo
  7. ^ Rodríguez Cuenca, 2007, p.117
  8. ^ a b Otálora Cascante, 2006, p.5
  9. ^ Martínez et al., 2010, p.115
  10. ^ (in Spanish) Estatua Antropomorfa Original #S 027- XVII - Mongua
  11. ^ Ardila & Correal, 2010, p.11
  12. ^ (in Spanish) UPTC rindió homenaje a Eliecer Silva Celis, en Sogamoso

Notable works by Silva CelisEdit


External linksEdit