Gold ornaments, such as these pectorals, from the Isthmus region of Central America, modern day Panama and Costa Rica, made a striking impression on the Spanish Conquistadors. Unfortunately the majority of the gold seized in the New World was melted down for bullion that would fuel such ill-fated ventures as the Spanish Armada. The ancient Americans had no concept of gold as currency. To them, it had primarily a deep symbolic and secondarily decorative a content. Actually, for purposes of exchange the indigenous peoples of the Americas used commodities such as cacao beans or lengths of finely woven cloth.
Veraguas circular, breastplates or patenas of hammered gold range in size from four inches in diameter to eight inches or more. The decorative element of the conical bosses may represent in their number and placement the status of the elite owner, most probably a warrior or shaman.