In 1577, King Philip II of Spain wanted to know whom he was ruling and where in his vast kingdom they were. So his viceroy asked the indigenous groups in what is now Mexico to draw some maps for him.
In response, they drew maps blending indigenous and Spanish traditions. Sometimes rivers are straight, with tiny arrows in the middle, to indicate which way they flow. Paths have footprints or hoofprints in the middle, to indicate whether the paths can be walked or ridden. These beautiful maps, and their way of recording the landscape, are a silent testimony to the survival of indigenous worldviews into the late 1500s.
In the 1500s three provinces, Beach, Maletur, and Lucach, were added to Australia. Note that the Europeans talking about Australia had not yet discovered it yet. Australia was a concept, a possibility, and somehow it already had named provinces. The names were corruptions of real places which were mentioned in Marco Polo’s book. Later European readers mistakenly placed them south of Java. And somehow the myth took on a life of its own.
The most important of the three was Beach, which appeared on many maps with the enticing title provincial aurifera, or “gold-bearing land.“ Sailors often referred to the continent of Australia as "Beach.”
Maletur was given the title scatens aromaibus, or a region overflowing with spices. Lucach was said as late as 1601 to have received an embassy from Java. These three places were believed to exist in Europe during the 1500s. In fact, in 1545 Spain even appointed a governor of the nonexistent Beach – a certain Pedro Sancho de la Hoz, who was one of the conquistadors of Chile.
The discovery of a town of 20,000 could put south-central Kansas on the map as the second-biggest settlement of Native Americans found in the United States, a Wichita State anthropologist says. The city was believed mythological for centuries. Spanish accounts of a permanent settlement with 20,000 Native Americans in it were thought to be exaggerated.
With new archaeological evidence of Etzanoa emerging, historians and archaeologists are having to rethink what they know about what North America looked like before Columbus.
The real name of the mission where the famous battle happened during the Mexican-American War is
San Antonio de Valero. But it has always been known by its nickname, Alamo. Where did that come from? Well, there are two competing theories.
Did you know that “alamo” is the Spanish word for “cottonwood”? One theory says that when the Spanish missionaries came to the spot in central Texas where they would locate the mission, they were struck by the lushness of the land and a grove of cottonwood trees growing nearby along the San Antonio River.
The second, competing theory, says the name came not from trees, but from a Spanish battalion of soldiers who were stationed at the mission after it was abandoned by missionaries. The battalion was named the Second Flying Company of San Carlos de Parras. No “alamo” in there. But the soldiers were originally from a small town called San Jose y Santiago del Alamo, in Coahuila, Mexico. Eventually that very long name got shortened, to La Compañía del Alamo, or just El Alamo.
Neither theory has been proven absolutely. Which do you prefer?