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Research News and Recent Publications on the Coronado Expedition

2007 - 2008

Stunning progress has been made in the few years since this web site was first launched in 2000. Considering the slow pace of progress on understanding the Coronado expedition in the previous hundred years, the rate of new discoveries is all the more astonishing.

The route of the expedition has now been much more firmly fixed by new discoveries of Coronado artifacts, as will be seen below, and the organization of the expedition is better understood.

Some highlights of recent activity:

ARCHIVAL WORK  Richard and Shirley Flint continue their work with original Coronado era documents in the achieves of Seville, and their search for new documents in cities in southern Mexico. The Flints published their monumental new translation of all the main Coronado documents, which is now the major source for Coronado materials in English (Flint and Flint, 2005).

RIO  SONORA  VALLEY The Flints and Gayle and William Hartmann have made several visits to the valley of the Rio Sonora in Sonora, Mexico, and agree that various parts of the valley agree very well with the Coronado descriptions of the “Valle de Senora” and locales such as Corazones and Arizpe, which they mentioned.

CORONADO ROAD SHOW & EVIDENCE ABOUT ROUTE IN SOUTHEAST ARIZONA   Don Burgess, working with the Center for Desert Archaeology in Tucson, organized several “Coronado Road Shows.” In these innovative events, a group including Burgess, and historians Homer Thiel, John Madsen, Chip Colwell-Chanthaphonh, the Flints, and the Hartmanns, visited various towns along the putative route so that ranchers and others could bring artifacts to be identified. We found no Coronado artifacts, but we did locate Spanish materials from the late 1700s, concentrated in the region around Duncan AZ and Virden NM. This supporting John Madsen’s conclusion from the 1795 diaries of José de Zúñiga, that a Spanish route from Arizpe to Zuni went through this area. Based on this, the Flints and others of us felt that knowledge of the ancient trade route to Zuni might have survived to Zúñiga’s time. This led Flints to conclude that a likely route for Coronado to have followed from the San Pedro was across the southern Sulfur Springs and through Apache Pass (north end of Chiricahua Mountains) toward Duncan and Virden.

CHICHILTICALE PASS  This would make Apache pass identical with Chichilticale pass, reported by the Coronado chronicler Jaramillo, and W. K. Hartmann is exploring the relationship between the name Chichliticale and historic names for the Chiricahuas.

REPORTED DISCOVERY OF CHICHILTICALE The most exciting development is the apparent discovery of the long lost Coronado camp site at the Chichilticale very After talking with the Flints and others, New Mexican exploration geologist Nugent Brasher devoted several years to this problem. With brilliant deduction, mapping, and hard work, he began metal detecting surveys at several water-source sites he hypothesized to be on the. Brasher (2007) reported an iron cross bow point and possible caret-head nail fragment from the Kuykendall ruin, a large pueblo ruin site at the foot of the Chiricahuas, and other probable Coronado artifacts at that site and others. (The site had been excavated in 1960s by advanced amateurs, but like most Sulfur Springs Valley pueblo sites, it was never professionally excavated.) The site appears definitely to be a the first Coronado camp site known in Arizona, and almost certainly is the Chichilticale ruin, as Brasher concluded.

ONGOING EXCAVATIONS AT CHICHILTICALE   Brasher has set up a web site at to record progress with the survey and excavations at the Chichilticale site. Excavations are continuing by Brasher and archaeologist Deni Seymour. Two more cross bow bolt heads have been shown on her web site that details excavation plans and progress, at

ADDITIONAL SOUTHEAST ARIZONA CORONADO CAMP SITES   Brasher (2007) reported that at another undisclosed candidate campsite roughly 50 km farther along the route, his metal detecting surveys turned up a lead ball with composition similar to that of a ball found at the site of the battle between Coronado’s army and Cíbola (see next item). More publications are expected from Brasher’s team.

SURVEYS OF THE CÍBOLA BATTLE SITE AT HAWIKUH   The Zuni tribe has supported new metal detecting surveys on their reservation. These surveys have turned up cross bow points and lead ball shot on the plain outside the ruin of Hawikuh pueblo on the Zuni reservation. This is the long hypothesized site of the battle between the Coronado army and the Zuni defenders of Cíbola. (See Hartmann 2002: 471-488, for a reconstruction of this battle from the eyewitness accounts).

FINDS AT EL MORRO NATIONAL MONUMENT   Coronado material has been reportedly found at the El Morro National Monument, the famous “inscription rock” between Zuni and Albuquerque. Although there are Spanish inscriptions there from the 1600s, no Coronado inscriptions are known (at El Morro or anywhere else). This work has not yet been published as of mid 2008.

ONGOING WORK AT BLANCO CORONADO CANYON CAMP SITE  Under Don Blakeslee, of Wichita State University in Kansas, excavations and analysis are continuing at the major Coronado camp site at Blanco Canyon, near Floydada, Texas. Only parts of this work have been published as of mid 2008.

FLESHING OUT THE CORONADO TRAIL   The above work ties down important points along the route, and these constrain other nearby parts of the route. The above work almost certainly confirms the route up the Rio Sonora, then downstream a few days on the San Pedro then turning “right” (as Jaramillo reported) to the Chiricahua-Chichilticale Mountains, as he described and the Chichilticale ruin (as Castañeda described). The main remaining problems of identification involve the individual pueblos discussed by the chroniclers in the Albuquerque area, and the route from Blanco Canyon into Kansas.

NEW BOOK FROM RICHARD FLINT   In 2008, Richard Flint published a popular-level account of the expedition, “No Settlement No Conquest: A History of the Coronado Entrada,” a book that bids to replace Herbert Bolton’s volume as the best general account of the expedition.

NEW BOOK FROM TONY HORWITZ   In 2008, also, Pulitzer-prize winning journalist/writer Tony Horwitz dealt with the Coronado expedition as a major section of his book “A Voyage Long and Strange,” which is an account of the explorations in North America before the 1700s, adjusting and correcting some of the mythic tales that most American children learn about the initial European explorations of our continent.

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