Museo de Sitio de Panamá la Vieja
During the restoration archaeologists found Spanish pots, plates, and utensils dating from the 16th and 17th centuries, as well as a much older cemetery with bones dating from 50 B.C.
These and other relics are kept in the Museo de Sitio de Panamá la Vieja (tel. 226-9815 or 224-6031, www.panamaviejo.org, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Tues.–Sun., US$3 adults, US$0.50 students), about a kilometer before the ruins themselves. It’s one of Panama’s best museums, a modern, two-story place with attractively presented displays. If you stop here first, be sure to buy a ticket that includes entry to the ruins; it’s cheaper than buying them separately.
Start on the top floor and work your way down. Displays include indigenous artifacts from the hundreds of years before the Spanish conquest, when the site was a fishing village. One of the more haunting exhibits is the skeleton of a woman, believed to have died at about age 40; she was apparently an important figure, whose grave also included the skulls of nine males.
Other displays include items from the early Spanish colonial days, such as shards of cooking pots, coins, lead musket balls, trinkets, and so on. There’s also a model of the city as it looked before Morgan’s incendiary visit. The ground floor has details on the restoration of the site. There is limited information in English, and no English-speaking guides.
© William Friar from Moon Panama, 3rd Edition