Hernán Cortés and the Montezuma Treasure

Mesoamerican Locations

13/06/2020
Of all the ground covered in this trilogy – all the ground I’ve ever covered as an author – little rivals the scope of the Mesoamerican civilisations when it comes to stoking the imagination. Just like the Templars, a mere mention of the name can be enough to open up a can of worms that can enthral even the most tacit observer. Over the years they have been linked with anything and everything from the Ark of the Covenant to Area 51! Without question, researching them has been of terrific interest, in no small part because of the immense scale there is for discovering new facets of history. Ever since I first read up on Hernán Cortés and La Noche Triste, there was something about them that made the possibility of including them in a story irresistible. The frequent lack of clear focal points and ambiguities in their history and mythology makes this all the more tantalising. Much of this can be put down to the actions of Cortés and the conquistadors themselves. Between them, they destroyed vast amounts of Maya and Aztec literature in the 1500s.

Every group of people mentioned in The Cortés Trilogy did exist. The Olmecs are believed to have been the first of the major civilisations. The Maya, the Toltecs, the Aztecs and the mysterious unnamed tribe who founded Teotihuacán are all known to have existed. The city of Tenochtitlán also existed, and references to it in this tale are real. The idea that it was inspired by an older, greater, city is plausible but not historical.

That a city of Tollan did exist has long been known. The Toltecs founded it near the city of Tula, their capital. That this was the city of myth, however, is false. Whether the mythical Tollan ever existed or not is another contentious issue that could itself be worthy of its own book. Like Atlantis or El Dorado, it is one of those places that most people want to believe in, but no one has ever found the definitive proof to substantiate. Like most of the creation myths, precise descriptions of the city tend to vary. According to some, it was here the seven caves were found, named in this book, Chicomoztoc. The existence of Chicomoztoc, either independent of Tollan or as part of it, was an important belief held by many Mesoamerican tribes. Just like the Garden of Eden, it was their point of creation. Over the years many candidates have been put forward for the location of the fabled mountain.

None are universally accepted.

The exact truth as regards the Mesoamerican creation myth is, sadly, almost certainly lost to history. Because of the destruction of Aztec literature, there are still gaps in our knowledge of their past. That Chicomoztoc was a central feature is one loosely known fact; another is the legendary island of their origin. The island, known as Aztlán, was believed to have been located north of the Valley of Mexico - the exact opposite of my location in the trilogy. The history of the Aztecah, mentioned in the trilogy as their sole inhabitants, is an equally grey area. Much of what is known of them belongs as much to mythology as history. The very word, written in Nahuatl, actually means, ‘people from Aztlán’. In the 1400s, the Aztecs sent out a party of explorers to find Aztlán.

Inevitably they were never seen again.

That something of significance still awaits discovery in the Olmec Heartland cannot be dismissed. The important sites of La Venta and San Lorenzo have not always been known to the wider world. The possibility that primitive settlements once existed there is hugely likely, albeit not on the scale I mentioned in these novels. If the original Aztlán does exist, chances are it would be a relatively simple place with any pyramids in keeping with the clay-built arrangements that typified the Olmec era. The idea that civilisation began when a flint knife was thrown to earth is based on a real myth.

The idea that a historical meteor inspired it is speculation.