December 10, 2008

Cibola in National Treasure 2

[Spoiler alert]

The Olmec writing in National Treasure: Book of Secrets leads to a revelation that Cibola, the legendary city of gold, exists. Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage) recounts the legend by reading it from a book:BEN:  "In 1527, a Spanish ship wrecked on the Florida coast. There were only four survivors. One was a slave named Esteban who saved the local tribe’s dying chief. As a reward, he was taken to their sacred city, a city built from solid gold."

BEN:  "Later, when Esteban tried to find the city again, he never could. But the legend grew, and every explorer came to the New World in search of it."

BEN:  "When General Custer’s search for gold ended with his last stand at Little Big Horn, it became clear none would ever find it."
Just a few problems with this. For starters, the legend of Cibola didn't exist till the Middle Ages. So it couldn't have been written on a piece of wood in the Proto-Zoquean language around AD 600. Oops.

Here's how the legend came about:

Quivira and CíbolaQuivira and Cíbola are two of the Seven Cities of Gold existing only in a myth that originated around the year 1150 when the Moors conquered Mérida, Spain. According to the legend, seven bishops fled the city, not only to save their own lives but also to prevent the Muslims from obtaining sacred religious relics. Years later, a rumor circulated that in a far away land—a place unknown to the people of that time—the seven bishops had founded the cities of Cíbola and Quivira.

The legend says that these cities grew very rich, mainly from gold and precious stones. This idea fueled many expeditions in search of the mythical cities during the following centuries.

Eventually, the legend behind these cities grew to such an extent that no one spoke solely of Quivira and Cíbola, but instead of seven magnificent cities made of gold, one for each of the seven bishops who had left Mérida.
The legend Ben reads is based on a true story, but other than that, it's a complete fabrication. Here's the actual story:The myth ... was fed by the four survivors of Pánfilo de Narváez's unsuccessful expedition to Florida in 1527. One was Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, who wrote Naufragios (Shipwrecks), in which he described the eight-year trek from the coast of Florida to the coast of Sinaloa in Mexico. Another survivor was an African slave named Esteban Dorantes, or Estevanico. Upon returning to New Spain, the adventurers said they had heard stories from the Natives they encountered about cities with great riches.And:Upon hearing the castaways' tales of cities with limitless riches to the north of New Spain, Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza organized an expedition headed by the Franciscan monk Marcos de Niza, who took as his guide Estevanico. During the voyage, in a place called Vacapa (probably located somewhere around the state of Sonora) the monk sent Estevanico to scout ahead. ... Estevanico did not wait for the friar, but instead continued traveling until he reached Háwikuh, now in New Mexico, where, at the hands of Pueblo Indians, he supposedly met his death, and his companions were forced to flee.Finally, Custer investigated the reports of gold in the Black Hills, but the notion that he was looking for the lost city of gold is ridiculous.

For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Movies.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

very interesting. i luv this movie but i never knew it had so much history behind it. WOW!!