The zipa used to cover his body in gold dust, and from his raft, he offered treasures to the Guatavita goddess in the middle of the sacred lake.
This old Muisca tradition became the origin of the legend of El Dorado.; Spanish for "the golden one"), originally El Hombre Dorado ("The Golden Man") or El Rey Dorado ("The Golden King"), was the term used by the Spanish Empire to describe a mythical tribal chief (zipa) of the Muisca native people in then Spanish colonial province of Colombia, who, as an initiation rite, covered himself with gold dust and submerged in Lake Guatavita.
The legends surrounding El Dorado changed over time, as it went from being a man, to a city, to a kingdom, and then finally to an empire.
A second location for El Dorado was inferred from rumors, which inspired several unsuccessful expeditions in the late 1500s in search of a city called Manõa on the shores of Lake Parime.
Two of the most famous of these expeditions were led by Sir Walter Raleigh.
In pursuit of the legend, Spanish conquistadors and numerous others searched Colombia, Venezuela, and parts of Guyana and northern Brazil for the city and its fabulous king.
In the course of these explorations, much of northern South America, including the Amazon River, was mapped.
By the beginning of the 19th century, most people dismissed the existence of the city as a myth.
The Muisca occupied the highlands of Cundinamarca and Boyacá departments of Colombia in two migrations from outlying lowland areas, one starting c.
1270 BCE, and a second between 800 BCE and 500 BCE.
At those times, other more ancient civilizations also flourished in the highlands.
The Muisca Confederation was as advanced as the Aztec, Maya and Inca civilizations.