El Dorado

El Dorado


I am not sure when I first heard the term ‘El Dorado.’  I know it was decades before the recent Indiana Jones movie where Harrison Ford is in the jungle of South America looking for a lost civilization.  I do not recall much about the movie except that the villain was a female Colonel Doctor.  That, and at the end of the movie everything exploded.  I have grown tired of the ‘aliens from space centuries ago established a civilization,’ theme that seems to infatuate Hollywood now days.  Instead of Egypt, it happened to be in the Amazon jungle. Whoever discovers the lost civilization may discover the power of these ancient aliens.  I enjoyed it far less than the original Indiana Jones movie in1981.

When I first created and played TreasureTrove in the late 1980’s with my kids, I placed El Dorado in the Amazon jungle of Brazil.  I placed a chunk of fool’s gold(pyrite) as the treasure to collect when landing on the space.  It was one of my son’s favorite treasures to collect while we played the game.  This was decades before the Indiana Jones movie.  Most books that I researched about South American treasure kept mentioning El Dorado.  That was the days before a person could just surf the internet.  As far the when the actual game was produced twenty years later, the treasure piece was a stack of gold nuggets, not a chunk of fool’s gold.


I recently watched a documentary titled “Lost in the Amazon,” about an famous explorer who went deep into the Amazon in search of a lost civilization of great wealth.  The British explorer named Col. Percy Fawcett was trying to find the fabled lost city he called  Z.  He never returned after one of his trips in 1925.  The documentary was one episode of a series called Secrets of the Dead.  Fawcett was probably as close to Indiana Jones as a person could be. It is thought he was killed, probably by hostile Indians.

In the 16th century the Spaniards reported large cities in the Amazon, and possessing great wealth.  In one such city it was said the king covered himself with gold dust.  That legendary city was referred to as El Dorado.  Because these fabled cities were never found they were deemed at best myths by the end of the 19th century.  That skepticism changed in 1911 when Machu Picchu was discovered.  It renewed interest in the possibility of the existence of El Dorado, and inspired Fawcett to carry out his expeditions.  Fawcett had received some information from an acquaintance who had done library research in Brazil and that there indeed reports by Spanish explorers of lost civilizations in the Amazon.  It is not known when but by the 20th century these cities were reported to have had stone buildings, some with Greek style letters on them.  In the last few decades as more land is being farmed in what was previously jungle, several large sites, some as big as 160 square miles with large earthen works, have been dug up.  Not cities of stone as legend says, but cities with large populations, well over 100,000 people.  The people of these cities were probably decimated by disease after encountering the Spanish.  The cities had been lost to the jungle for centuries, long before 20th century explorers such as Fawcett.  Cities this large very well could have obtained great wealth.  It is possible in time archaeologists will discover the lost gold of the past civilizations.  Even if they do not, I believe there is some truth to the fable city of El Dorado.

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