History of Eldorado: myth or reality?

(ORDO NEWS) — Eldorado is a mythical city, which was legendary! It was believed that somewhere in the jungles of South America there is a place full of gold and jewelry. Until now, people argue about the existence of this city, hoping to discover untold riches.

When Europeans arrived in America, they were seized with a thirst for gold and jewelry. That is why the myth of Eldorado so attracted them.

For centuries, people have been looking for Eldorado, but scientists are inclined to believe that this city was actually a combination of several myths at once. In some legends El Dorado is a man, in others it is a lake or a valley.

One of the most famous stories about the origins of Eldorado was first mentioned by the poet and conquistador Juan de Castellanos.

In his verse history of Spanish heroism in the Americas, Elegías de varones ilustres de Indias, written in the 1570s, he tells of a Muisca (or Chibcha) chieftain who inhabited the great plateau of Cundinamarca, high in the eastern Andes (modern-day Colombia). ).

The story tells that once a year the leader covered himself from head to toe with turpentine, and then with gold dust: hence the name “El Dorado”, which is translated from Spanish as “golden” (el dorado).

According to Castellanos, in this form, the leader on a barge arrived in the middle of Lake Guatavita and sacrificed gold and emeralds to the lake. People at this time sang and danced, after which the leader himself dived into the water, which was the signal for the beginning of the festival.

History of Eldorado myth or reality 2

Alas, apart from Castellanos’ poem, there is no record of this event. many said that this tradition disappeared 40 or 50 years before the arrival of the Spaniards. But how did the poet himself know about it?

Another theory

History of Eldorado myth or reality 3

The second version of Eldorado’s origin story dates from 1541, about 20 years after Hernán Cortés conquered the Aztecs. At this point in history, the Spaniards had not yet ventured deep into the jungle, which meant that much of the area was still unexplored by Europeans.

The 1541 version of the Eldorado myth is found in the writings of a conquistador named Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo. His story takes place in Quito in northern Ecuador. This territory was at that time conquered by the Spaniards, earlier it was inhabited by the Incas.

According to Oviedo, Eldorado was “a great lord or monarch [who] constantly walks, covered with gold as fine as ground salt; for, in his opinion, to wear any other ornament is less beautiful … but to sprinkle yourself with gold is an extraordinary thing, unusual, new and more expensive.

And who was looking for Eldorado?

Inspired by the myth of Oviedo, in February 1541, a Spanish conquistador named Francisco González Pizarro gathered a small force of people and set out from Quito in search of the mythical king Eldorado. However, in his own accounts of his adventure, Pizarro describes El Dorado as a lake rather than a person.

Pizarro headed east from Quito with several hundred conquistadors and thousands of native servants. They were kept in chains and shackles along with horses, llamas, about 2,000 pigs and an equal number of hunting dogs.

Pizarro expected to soon discover a rich civilization, new lands, cultivated fields, villages and cities. Instead, marching for weeks and months in the darkness of the rainforest during the rainy season, crossing mountains, swamps and rivers, he found nothing but deprivation, hunger and poverty.

By the end of the year, the situation of all participants in the campaign became sad. People began to starve. However, this did not stop Pizarro from torturing everyone in his path, trying to figure out where Eldorado is!

One day they came across a tribe and a leader named Delicola. Hearing of the cruelties that the Spaniards subjected to those they interrogated, he told Pizarro a lie to leave his lands.

Delicola told them that further down the river there was “a very large village” and “very rich regions full of powerful lords”.

Pizarro ordered the construction of a boat; she was supposed to carry men and supplies downstream while the remaining men and horses made their way along the shore. They traveled this way for 43 days, but found nothing. And most importantly, there was almost no food there.

Realizing that people would soon begin to starve to death, in December 1541 one of Pizarro’s men, Francisco de Orellana, volunteered to take a boat and about fifty men to find food and return.

But he could not, as he went to the Amazon, which further led the detachment to the Atlantic. Pizarro called it treason. He turned his remaining men around and slowly made his way back to Quito. Miraculously, the expedition returned to Quito.

This long story is a clear example of how the myth of Eldorado became one of the main factors that prompted Europeans to explore South America. Many were looking for a golden leader, a city, a valley. But no one found.


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