May 31, 2023


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Virtual trip to the history of Cartagena

3 min read

In Cartagena de Indias in Colombia, the Calamarí Catalog has just been presented, by the Cartagena historian Angelina Araújo Vélez, it is a web page that brings together 3,323 specialized documents on the province of Cartagena de Indias from the 16th century, which rest in the Archivo de Indias in Seville (Spain).

They are foundational documents of a historical nature that for centuries remained hermetic and secret, and whose accessibility was only possible by coming personally to the Seville Archive before the advent of the Internet.

The catalog can be accessed at the address: Now we can enter more than 4 centuries of history, following the trail of the indigenous name Calamarí, from the ancient indigenous kingdom of the Mocanes, which means Land of Crabs.

In this catalog we will come across the sighs of the Genoese admiral Christopher Columbus when he contemplates for the first time the glow of the earth between the rough waves of the October sea, and the light of the skin of the indigenous people with their eyes surprised at the arrival of the ships. The catalog includes letters, ordinances of kings, navigation charts, intuitions of adventurers and sea hunters, letters from governors and archbishops, news of shipwrecks and storms, foundations at the foot of the sea, and maps of shores and horizons not yet foreseen. The catalog takes us to look at the other history before the founding ceremonies of 1533, the first travelers and explorers, the capitulations with the conquerors in the exploration of the region. The Archive of the Indies in Seville is considered one of the most complete sources on the history of America.

The author and intellectual historian who developed the initiative for this catalog was Angélica Araújo Vélez, from Cartagena, from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, who dreamed of it four decades ago, when she traveled to Seville after researching her thesis at the Archivo de Indias. To achieve this, he worked hard for years on that dream. At that time, his challenge was to ensure that those old archives could be in Cartagena de Indias. He was linked to the Banco de la República for two decades, and worked on the creation of the Museo Casa de la Moneda, in Bogotá. In 2014, upon retiring, he decided to consolidate the Calamarí Catalog in homage to the first inhabitants of Cartagena de Indias. He spent five years deciphering the documents alluding to Cartagena de Indias in the Archivo de Indias, available online for researchers at the Portal de Archivos Españoles, Pares. He inventoried them into 25 essential topics and 450 secondary topics, with 2,000 specific issues. The Calamarí Catalog is already sailing in everyone’s hands.

He also specialized in Archives at University College London and University of Brighton, in England, which allowed him to design his catalog sponsored by the Fundación Cartago, from Switzerland. His feat is also the order in which he conceived it. Angelina Araújo Vélez is a historian specialized in Paleography, which studies ancient writings and allows the reading of this type of document. Published by Cartagena Herald, a news and information agency.

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