Friday, February 20, 2009


The existence of a city of gold, or El Dorado, was regarded as fact rather than fiction in Europe during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Men such as Walter Raleigh and Percy Fawcett from England and Cabeza de Vaca, Francisco Pizarro and Francisco Coronado from Spain undertook costly expeditions in the area that is now Mexico and the southwestern states of the USA. All proved futile and costly in terms of lives, money and reputations, yet the failure of one simply spurred on others. Two locations of 'the city of gold' are shown on this map. Each is plotted in an identical manner to all the other places 'known' to exist, such was their 'factual' status. Cibola was believed to be seven golden cities, while Quivira was not only where the gold mines were but also where Montezuma the Aztec King had sent all his gold to be hidden in its underground caves.

Unfortunately, the Spanish translation of the local word cibola as 'gold' was incorrect for its actual meaning was 'buffalo'. There is a parallel, for the buffalo was certainly one of the most valuable things to those living in this part of the world. As for Quivira? Its fabled caves and passages would no doubt have been in the mountain range in whose shadow it stands. Unfortunately, there is no such mountain range.


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