The Seven Cities of Gold is a legend from the Spanish conquest of South America. It led to several expeditions by adventurers and conquistador during the 16th century. The legend originated in New Spain, about the lost cities of Quivira and Cíbola.
The location of the golden cities appear to have been in the mountains (Cibola) of the Inca. Quivira was the location of the fabulous source of mineral wealth but it was located in Kansas and it was the Flint fire stone (Quay-Vi-ra). Well known to the Indians of North America but not the gold the Spanish lusted for. Now famous as the Flint Hills of Kansas.
Origins of myth
In the 16th century, the Spaniards in New Spain (now Mexico) began to hear rumors of "Seven Cities of Gold" called "Cíbola" located across the desert, hundreds of miles to the north. The stories may have their root in an earlier Portuguese legend about seven cities founded on the island of Antillia by a Catholic expedition in the 8th century, or one based on the capture of Mérida, Spain by the Moors in 1150.
The later Spanish tales were largely caused by reports given by the four shipwrecked survivors of the failed Narváez expedition, which included Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and a black moorish slave named Esteban Dorantes, or Estevanico. Eventually returning to New Spain, the adventurers said they had heard stories from natives about cities with great and limitless riches. However, when conquistador Francisco Vázquez de Coronado finally arrived at Cíbola in 1540, he discovered that the stories were unfounded and that there were, in fact, no treasures as the friar had described — only adobe towns.
While among the towns, Coronado heard an additional rumor from a native he called "the Turk" that there was a city with plenty of gold called Quivira located on the other side of the great plains. However, when at last he reached this place (variously conjectured to be in modern Kansas, Nebraska or Missouri), he found little more than straw-thatched villages.
The historic Cibola on the other hand is recorded in Spanish sources as another name for the Zuñi pueblo and the surrounding country. The Spanish soon discovered rich copper and turquoise mines in the Pueblo country which made the region famous for its mineral wealth even in recent times. The Pueblo Indians including the Zuñi are still well known for their Turquoise and silver work.
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