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A gold bar found in the vicinity of downtown Mexico City in 1981 It belonged to the war booty carried by the Spanish conquerors led by Hernán Cortés when they fled from Greater Tenochtitlán in 1520, according to a new study released on Friday, January 11, 2020.
The origin of the gold piece, found by a worker during excavations for a construction, had remained a mystery for almost four decades.
But X-ray fluorescence analysis by physicists yielded evidence that the piece corresponds to the time and to the characteristics of the gold that the Spanish snatched from the Aztecs, reported the Mexican National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).
"The characteristics of the metal bar (...) coincide quite exactly with those referred to in historical sources," the INAH said in a statement.
On June 30, 1520, Cortés and his hosts fled from the islet, now disappeared, where the Great Tenochtitlán, capital of the Aztec empire, was erected, and they took with them, according to the stories, the valuable treasure of the emperor Montezuma.
“This ingot is a key piece in the puzzle of that historical event, as it coincides with the description that (the Spanish conqueror) Bernal Díaz del Castillo made of the ‘gold yews’ that were obtained from the smelting of the ‘Treasury of Moctezuma's ancestors‘”, Says the INAH.
However, in the race on horseback and stalked by the Aztecs, the spanish lost the treasure on a road that leads north of the now mega-city.
The gold bar, weighing almost 2 kg, was found on March 13, 1981 during the construction of government offices located precisely on an avenue that was once the northern road.
Cortés managed to take shelter a few kilometers from Tenochtitlán and under a leafy ahuehuete, baptized as "the Tree of the Sad Night”And of which there are still vestiges, he mourned the defeat of his troops before the Aztecs.
For the archaeologist Leonardo López Luján, who was in charge of this new investigation, the gold bar is a “dramatic material witness of the Spanish conquest and unique archaeological testimony of the so-called‘Sad night‘”.
The Spanish, allied with other pre-Hispanic peoples hostile to the Aztecs, finally they won and the Great Tenochtitlán fell on August 15, 1521.
But nevertheless, Moctezuma's treasure was never recovered.