Home History & Archaeology The Seek for Cibola, the Seven Cities of Gold

The Seek for Cibola, the Seven Cities of Gold

The Seek for Cibola, the Seven Cities of Gold


Within the fifteenth century, the Age of Discovery started in Europe. The maritime empires of Spain and Portugal led the way in which by financing naval expeditions the world over’s oceans. Their rediscovery of the New World, the exploration of the West African coast, and their discovery of the ocean path to the East introduced nice wealth to the 2 fledgling maritime empires. Coupled with the thirst for exploration was a starvation for gold, so when native legends spoke of Cibola, the seven cities of gold, this may inevitably spur adventurous conquistadors to launch expeditions seeking the elusive cities.

The Revival of the Legend: Survivors’ Tales and the Seven Cities of Gold

The legend of Cibola, the Seven Cities of Gold, could have had its origins in an earlier legend regarding the destiny of Don Rodrigo of Spain when he misplaced his kingdom to the Muslims within the 8  th century AD. It’s mentioned that the king took seven bishops in addition to a number of individuals and sailed to an island known as Antilia. On that island, every bishop constructed a metropolis, while the ships and navigational devices have been burnt to stop the individuals from returning to Spain.

Map of North America published by Henry Chatelain for the 1720 edition of his seminal Atlas Historique. It includes references to Quivia (Quivira) just west of the Mississippi, and Cibola in New Mexico. Both Quivira and Cibola are among the “Seven Cities of Gold” sought after by early Spanish explorers in the North America. (Public Domain)

Map of North America revealed by Henry Chatelain for the 1720 version of his seminal Atlas Historique. It contains references to Quivia (Quivira) simply west of the Mississippi, and Cibola in New Mexico. Each Quivira and Cibola are among the many “Seven Cities of Gold” wanted by early Spanish explorers within the North America. (Public Area)

The legend was revived within the 1530s, when 4 survivors of the ill-fated Narváez expedition managed to return to New Spain. This expedition, which started in 1527, was aimed on the colonization of Florida. In 1528, while trying to sail from Mexico to Florida, the crew was shipwrecked on the coast of Texas. The boys who survived have been captured by the indigenous individuals. After 4 years in captivity, the boys managed to flee, and for the subsequent 4 years wandered throughout what’s at the moment the southern United States. Once they lastly encountered Spanish troopers at Sinaloa in modern-day Mexico, solely 4 males have been left, out of an preliminary drive of 600. Via their years of wandering, the boys encountered quite a few indigenous tribes, and one of many legends they heard was about seven cities laden with gold, mentioned to be situated someplace within the Sonoran Desert.    

According to legend, the seven cities of gold could be found in the Sonoran Desert, Arizona. (Public Domain)

In accordance with legend, the seven cities of gold could possibly be discovered within the Sonoran Desert, Arizona. (Public Area)

The Expedition of Esteban de Dorantes and Marcos de Niza: The Search Begins

In 1539, the Viceroy of New Spain, Antonio de Mendoza, despatched one of many survivors, a North African slave named Esteban de Dorantes, and a Franciscan priest, Marcos de Niza, on an expedition to seek out the Seven Cities. Throughout this expedition, Esteban was reportedly murdered by the Zunis he encountered, while Marcos managed to return to Mexico Metropolis, the place he reported that he noticed one of many cities of Cibola from a distance. He didn’t enter the town, nevertheless, as he was afraid that he would endure the identical destiny as Esteban.   

A painting by Frederic Remington of Francisco Vázquez de Coronado and his army on the march to find Cibola. (Public Domain)

A portray by Frederic Remington of Francisco Vázquez de Coronado and his military on the march to seek out Cibola. (Public Area)

Coronado’s Expedition: Scaling Up the Seek for the Seven Cities

Believing the priest’s story, the Viceroy determined to fee a bigger expedition within the following yr, this time below the management of the conquistador Francisco Vázquez de Coronado. Therefore, in February 1940, Coronado led 350 Spanish troopers and between 900 and 1300 indigenous allies north seeking the Seven Cities. This expedition, which lasted about two years, was an utter failure. As a substitute of discovering nice cities with partitions manufactured from gold, Coronado and his males solely discovered modest indigenous villages with partitions of adobe mud. In consequence, many males, together with Coronado himself, grew to become bankrupt when the expedition returned to Mexico Metropolis empty handed.

Map of the Coronado Expedition route. Led by Francisco Vásquez de Coronado, from 1540 through 1542. (Public Domain)

Map of the Coronado Expedition route. Led by Francisco Vásquez de Coronado, from 1540 via 1542. (Public Area)

Though Coronado and his males failed of their quest to seek out the Seven Cities of Gold, they might not return empty handed.  Their journey took them via the modern-day states of ArizonaNew Mexico, Texas and Kansas, which Coronado claimed for Spain, thus stopping different European powers from trying to colonize the American southwest.

However, Coronado returned to authorities livid that he had not introduced again the wealth he had promised.  Coronado by no means mounted one other expedition and died believing that he had been a shameful failure.

Archaeological Discovery: Unearthing Artifacts of the Coronado Expedition

In 2022, Arizona-based archaeologist Deni Seymour asserted the discovery of artifacts tied to the famend Sixteenth-century Spanish Coronado Expedition led by Francisco Vázquez de Coronado. The discover, situated in Santa Cruz County, Arizona, doubtlessly reshapes the narrative surrounding the expedition’s historic trajectory, questioning the precise route Coronado and his band took to achieve the Zuni pueblos. Seymour claims that her discovery proves past any doubt that Coronado and his military entered Arizona alongside the Santa Cruz River earlier than ultimately heading east. The invention has raised questions on whether or not the positioning may be labeled because the ‘first European settlement within the US.’ Most consultants have remained skeptical, nevertheless, subscribing to the consensus view.

High picture: Conquistador Francisco Vázquez de Coronado launched an expedition for the Seven Cities of Gold, Cibola. Supply: Augusto Ferrer-Dalmau Nieto/CC BY-SA 4.0

By Ḏḥwty



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