Obsidian blade linked to Coronado’s expedition to find the fabled city of gold

Written on 02/28/2024
Mark Milligan

Archaeologists suggest that a flaked-stone obsidian blade could be linked to the expedition led by Francisco Vasquez de Coronado to search for the fabled city of gold.

Francisco Vázquez de Coronado was a Spanish explorer and conquistador, who led an expedition from what is now Mexico to present-day Kansas from 1540 to 1542.

Coronado was searching for Cibola, also known as the Seven Cities of gold, which according to legend was a fabled province that held vast cities constructed from gold.

The legend may have its roots in a Portuguese myth about seven cities founded on a mythical rectangular island called Antillia in the Atlantic Ocean, as depicted in the 1424 portolan chart of Zuane Pizzigano.

However, most reports about Cibola originate from shipwrecked survivors of the Narváez expedition, a failed colonial enterprise to establish settlements and garrisons in the Florida area in 1527.

The obsidian blade was found in the region of the Texas panhandle, which according to researchers from the Southern Methodist University (SMU) was likely dropped by a member of Coronado’s expedition, that included people indigenous to Mexico.

A spectrometer analysis of the blade’s chemical composition reveals that it originates from the Central Mexico’s Sierra de Pachuca mountain range, where indigenous people used obsidian to produce cutting tools until the Spanish conquest.

SMU anthropologist, Matthew Boulanger, said: “This small unassuming artefact fits all of the requirements for convincing evidence of a Coronado presence in the Texas panhandle.”

“It is the correct form of artefact, it is fully consistent with other finds, the correct material, found in the correct location, and there are no indications of an intentional hoax,” added Boulanger.

Further studies have traced the path of the expedition passing through the United States by studying other examples of central Mexican obsidian blades discarded by the expedition members.

Header Image Credit : Alamy

Sources : Southern Methodist University - Artefact could be linked to Spanish explorer Coronado's expedition across Texas Panhandle.