Lost Kingdoms of South America

1 x 60 mins - BBC4

Producer, Director, Writer

This major new history series for BBC4 went beyond the well-covered stories of the Inca, Aztec and Maya to reveal the forgotten histories of South America's other pre-Columbian civilisations. For my episode archaeologist Jago Cooper explored the mountains and jungles of Colombia in search of the truth behind one of the greatest stories ever told - the legend of El Dorado. His journey took him from Bogota to the Caribbean coast, through territories once dominated by two forgotten cultures, the Muisca and the Tairona, people who flourished for centuries before the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century. These were civilisations who valued gold in a way the Western world still struggles to understand – not for its monetary value but for the colours that could be produced by mixing it with other metals. Colours that carried deep spiritual values, mixed into objects that would then be discarded in caves or at the bottom of lake as offerings to the gods. To discover more Jago explored an astonishing lost city deep in the jungle and met the last survivors of this ancient civilization.

As we were operating in remote areas still contested at the time between the Colombian government and FARC rebels groups all members of the team underwent additional security and medical training for this assignment.


Production Company: IWC Media

Presenter: Jago Cooper

Composer: Terry Devine-King

Camera: Peter Harvey

Editor: Clyde Wallbanks

Executive Producer: Ross Harper

Commissioning Editor: Tom McDonald