Texas Discovery Might Unlock Secrets and techniques of ‘Metropolis of Gold’ Expedition

An obsidian blade present in Texas a long time in the past might shed new mild on a Spanish expedition that set out searching for a fabled “metropolis of gold” through the mid-Sixteenth century.

The unassuming artifact, which measures round 2 inches in size, might have been dropped by a member of the expedition, analysis performed by anthropologist Matthew Boulanger of Southern Methodist College suggests.

Led by Spanish conquistador Francisco Vázquez de Coronado (1510-1554), the expedition befell between 1540 and 1542. On this interval, Coronado and his occasion, which included Indigenous Mexicans, trekked throughout components of what’s now Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Kansas.

This obsidian blade was discovered by Charlene Erwin’s father-in-law within the Texas Panhandle within the Thirties. A research has instructed that the artifact could possibly be linked to the 1540-1542 expedition of conquistador Francisco Vázquez de…

Southern Methodist College

Boulanger’s newest analysis, printed within the Journal of the North Texas Archeological Society, describes how the obsidian blade might unravel the mysteries surrounding the route that the expedition took tons of of years in the past.

“The trail of Coronado’s expedition by the American Southwest and the southern Nice Plains has been a matter of a lot debate and dialogue,” Boulanger advised Newsweek. “The precise path he took by New Mexico is well-known as a result of his group visited most of the massive cities occupied by Indigenous Puebloan peoples. Reconstructing the journey by New Mexico is an easy matter of connecting the dots from every of the cities that they visited.”

“Nevertheless, as soon as the expedition moved eastward onto the Nice Plains, they had been confronted with an enormous flat plain with no clear landmarks to explain—there are not any geographical dots to attach,” Boulanger continued. “So regardless that we’ve written journals from the expedition’s members, we’ve no approach of understanding the place precisely the group was till they arrived on the [Wichita Indian] city of Quivira in southern Kansas.”

For over a century, archaeologists and historians have debated the precise path of the expedition by Texas and Oklahoma. However these researchers have all labored from the identical restricted supply of information: the imprecise descriptions of canyons, valleys and streams talked about within the expedition’s journals.

Nevertheless, the blade product of obsidian—a kind of naturally occurring volcanic glass—might present bodily proof of the trail taken by the expedition, if corroborating proof might be discovered, in line with Boulanger.

“At current, just one different Coronado-related web site has been recognized in Texas, and that is about 150 miles south of the ranch on which this obsidian piece was discovered. So this little piece of obsidian represents a second dot permitting us to higher reconstruct the journey Coronado took by the Texas Panhandle,” he mentioned.

Boulanger’s newest analysis was sparked by an opportunity encounter after a gathering of the North Texas Archeological Society. The anthropologist was speaking to 1 member of the group, Charlene Erwin, who requested the researcher if he could be prepared to look at an obsidian artifact that her deceased father-in-law had discovered on a ranch within the Thirties close to McLean within the Texas Panhandle. The merchandise has been within the household’s possession ever since.

The daddy-in-law picked up many artifacts from the ranch however doesn’t seem to have acknowledged the importance of the obsidian piece, in line with Boulanger.

Since obsidian doesn’t happen naturally in Texas, any artifacts made out of this volcanic glass discovered within the state have to be merchandise of commerce and alternate with folks residing close to a supply.

“The closest supply of obsidian to the Texas Panhandle is in northern New Mexico—about 300 miles to the west. I agreed to take a look on the assortment, simply as a public service and due to the rarity of obsidian in Texas archaeological websites,” Boulanger mentioned.

The anthropologist performed a chemical evaluation of the blade, figuring out that it originated within the Sierra de Pachuca vary of Central Mexico. Indigenous folks produced reducing instruments from obsidian on this area till the Spanish conquest of the realm within the 1500s.

However how did an obsidian blade from Central Mexico find yourself within the Texas Panhandle? Provided that there isn’t a clear proof of a commerce community connecting the Indigenous peoples of the 2 areas earlier than the conquest, the anthropologist thought-about three hypotheses within the research.

The primary is that Erwin’s father-in-law obtained the blade by commerce or alternate with different collectors. The second is that the blade is a hoax—one meant to garner consideration for Erwin and his assortment. The third is that the artifact might signify an object discarded by one of many few Spanish expeditions that handed by the Texas Panhandle through the Sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries—particularly, the one led by Coronado.

A map of the Coronado expedition routes
A map exhibits the reconstructed paths of the Francisco Vázquez de Coronado expedition. Strong strains are properly supported by documentary and archaeological proof, whereas stars point out restoration areas of obsidian instruments. The big purple star…


This expedition handed by the Texas Panhandle in 1541. And whereas Coronado’s actual route throughout the area is unsure, present understanding means that the occasion handed by or near McLean, the place Erwin’s father-in-law grew up and picked up artifacts.

After assessing the obtainable proof—together with piecing collectively the father-in-law’s travels and interviewing the household—Boulanger decided that the third speculation is probably.

“We suggest that this small unassuming artifact matches the entire necessities for convincing proof of a Coronado presence within the McLean space,” the authors wrote within the research. “It’s the appropriate type of artifact, the artifact is absolutely per different such finds, it’s the appropriate materials, it was discovered within the appropriate location, and there’s no indication of an intentional hoax.”

Obsidian artifacts had been usually left behind by Spanish expeditions within the area, just like the one led by Coronado, due to the follow of bringing Indigenous Mexican allies with them. These allies introduced their very own instruments and weapons, equivalent to obsidian blades. The brittle blades had been discarded once they broke, forsaking proof of the routes taken, which is what might have occurred through the Coronado expedition.

Sadly for the conquistador, he by no means did discover the town of gold he was trying to find, ultimately realizing that the tales he had been advised had been fabrications.