El Dorado has been the dream destination of treasure hunters for many centuries now. It is seen as a city filled with gold beyond imagination. Through many centuries this tale of a city has prevailed. In the 16th and 17th centuries the Europeans believed this city was placed somewhere in the New World. Many lives have since then been wasted behind the quest of this treasure. Many expeditions have been conducted to find this treasure but none has yielded any results. So is El Dorado a fable? Or was there a city of gold that was lots?
Many researchers have pondered all through their lives in order to unravel this history’s mystery. All the researchers believe that the gold and precious jewels mentioned in the ancient folklores are hidden somewhere in South America. According to Jim Griffith, a folklorist “”El Dorado shifted geographical locations until finally it simply meant a source of untold riches somewhere in the Americas”. The origin of El Dorado initiated when the Spanish explorers set foot in South America in early 16th century. They heard the stories of a tribe residing in the high Andes (which is present day Colombia).
According to the stories when a new chieftain rose to power, there was an elaborate ceremony performed in which the leader was smeared with golden dust and huge number of golden ornaments and then dived into Lake Guatavita. Other onlookers used to throw away gold and precious jewels into the water to please the gods living under water. This tribe was recognised as Musica and their chieftain was named as El Dorado (the gilded one). As the legend goes this ceremony came to an end in the late 15th century when the Musica tribe was conquered by another tribe. It is also said that the city had many temples which had walls made of solid gold. Though the Spaniards found a lot of gold all through South America but they kept on looking for this Lost City of Gold. They found no city, but discovered Lake Guatavita in 1545. Though they drained some water from this Lake and found about hundred piece of gold but the lost treasure was deeper in water beyond their reach.
Expeditions were made all through the 16th century. Sir Walter Raleigh made two trips himself. On his second trip to the South America in search of the Lost City of Gold his son Watt Raleigh was killed in a conflict with the Spaniards and he faced execution under order by King James for coming into conflict with the Spanish. But Sir Walter Raleigh stated that this city could be somewhere up the Orinoco River in present day Guyana. It was shown in the English maps before the theory was dismissed during the Latin American expedition led by Alexander von Humboldt. Explorers never stopped the quest of the lost city or Lake Guatavita. In 1911 there was an expedition sponsored by a gold manufacturer. There were tunnels made in order to remove the Lake water from Lake Guatavita, but heavy rains filled the lake quickly making it impossible to go deep. Only a few golden objects were found in the lake.
In the recent past the craze for El Dorado has lost its sting. According to the present day researchers, no such city existed and the tribes made up the story in order to divert the Spanish conquerors from their villages. However, as all hope was lost a group of workers digging near a small cave near Bogota found a golden statue. This statue had the figure of a chief riding on with eight men, ever since no other inspiring discovery has come to light regarding the Lost City of Gold.
Were the tales of El Dorado and Lost City of Gold a myth or reality only time will be able to reveal. For now it seems that the City was lost due to subsequent invasions by many tribes. The gold might also have been divided among the closely placed tribes after the fall of Musica tribe. It can be held the temples with walls of gold were an exaggeration.