A small piece of obsidian, just over 5 cm long, was found on a hard scrabble piece of farmland, possibly in the Texas panhandle. Credit: SMU

This is a small piece of obsidian, just over 5 cm long, possibly found on a hard scrabble piece of ranchland in the Texas panhandle. But when SMU anthropologist Matthew Boulanger looks at it, he gets a mental picture of Spanish explorer Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, who was venturing across the plains in search of the city of gold more than 470 years ago.

Bollinger believes that the flaked stone tool with its sharp edge was probably dropped by a member of Coronado’s expedition, which included native Mexicans, as they traveled through Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Oklahoma, and Mexico. and was tracked in parts of Kansas. His theory is supported by Blade’s spectrometer analysis. which links it to the Sierra de Pachuca mountain range in central Mexico, where natives used obsidian to make cutting tools until the Spanish conquest.

“This small, unusual sample meets all the requirements for convincing evidence of Coronado’s presence in the Texas Panhandle,” Bollinger said. “This is the correct form of the artifact, it is fully consistent with other finds, the correct material, found in the correct location, and there are no indications of deliberate forgery.”

Boulanger, director of archaeological research collections at SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, published his findings. Journal of the North Texas Archaeological Society With co-author Charlene Erwin.

Other researchers have traced the route of Spanish explorers and indigenous peoples of Mexico to what is now the United States through the presence of central Mexican obsidian blades; Because the blades were brittle, they were discarded along the way as soon as they broke.

Boulanger admits that where the blade was found is subject to conjecture, as he examined the specimen after its collector’s death. But a reconstructed map of Coronado’s expedition shows that the travelers likely passed through a ranch near McLean, Texas, where collector Lloyd Erwin grew up.

The artifact can be linked to the Spanish explorer Coronado's expedition into the Texas Panhandle

Map of northern New Mexico and southern Great Plains showing the reconstructed routes of Coronado Entrada (1540-1542). Credit: SMU

As a child, Erwin became interested in historical artifacts and began collecting items found in the field. Years later, his daughter-in-law, Charlene, asked Boulanger to authenticate some obsidian pieces from a collection of specimens he had made. Upon closer inspection, Boulanger noticed a green tint on an obsidian piece that looked as if it had been placed afterthought in the frame.

Using a spectrometer, Bollinger located obsidian in the Sierra de Pachuca mountain range of central Mexico, where Widely used for making tools until the Spanish conquest.

So, how did an obsidian blade from central Mexico end up in the Texas Panhandle? There is no clear evidence of a trade network that connected the native peoples of the Texas Panhandle with those living in central Mexico before the Spanish conquest of Mexico in the early 1500s.

Boulanger offers three theories for consideration: young Lloyd Irwin acquired the blade through trade or exchange of specimens with other collectors, the blade is a hoax to draw attention to Irwin and his collection, or the blade Originally found by Erwin in Texas and indeed it is. An archaeological find. After piecing together Erwin’s travels and interviewing his family, Bollinger believes the third hypothesis is correct.

He suspects. The blade was carried north by one of the many Mexican natives who accompanied the Coronado expedition to Quivera, near modern day Salina, Kansas. If more corroborating evidence is uncovered near where Arun was found. it may provide more evidence to archaeologists. One is part of a Coronado-related site and an indication of the campaign trail.

“Since we know that Ervin found the knife on his family farm, we can speculate that someone on the expedition to Coronado disposed of it,” Bollinger said. “When I talk to people collecting artifacts, I ask them to document where they find objects. Because most of us now have cell phones, we can easily record GPS coordinates. Can. Now you can provide archaeologists with precise locations, helping them confirm artifacts and potentially lead to more discoveries.”

More information:
Charlene Erwin et.al., A Central Mexican Origin for an Obsidian Prismatic Blade from the Texas Panhandle, Journal of the North Texas Archaeological Society (2023).

Reference: Artifact Linked to Spanish Explorer Coronado’s Expedition to the Texas Panhandle (2024, February 23) https://phys.org/news/2024-02-artifact-linked-spanish-explorer-coronado February 23, 2024 Retrieved from .html

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