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Who discovered the Great Salt Lake?
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by NaturalResources: [QB] I have focused my research over the last few weeks on the Frenchman Andre Thevet. Since he produced the earliest map featuring what I believe to be the GSL, it seemed appropriate. Unfortunately, Thevet was a known plagiarist, which is creating quite and obstacle in tracking down what sources he might have used to create his 1575 map. However, my research seems to be paying off and I have uncovered a few very interesting facts. For example: Andre Thevet is known to have had access to one of the rare Aztex Codices, namely the "Mendoza Codex". These codices were written by "pre-Columbian" and "colonial-era Aztecs". Written hundreds of years ago, even today these codices provide the best primary source for knowledge of Aztec culture and history. The "Mendoza Codex" is a pictorial document, and includes Spanish annotations and commentary and was written in 1514. The codex was commissioned by the Vicory of New Spain (Modern-day Mexico), Antonio de Mendoza. It was completed in Mexico City, and was being shipped to Charles V, the king of Spain, when the ship it was on was seized by French privateers. The codex, along with the rest of the loot was sent to France. At some point after this, the codex ended up in the hands of Andre Thevet, who was French king Henry II's cosmographer. This fact is confirmed by Thevet's signature, which appears 5 times in the Mendoza codex, along with the date 1553. As I have stated before, previous research has revealed that the most likely primary source for the knowledge of the GSL in the mid-1500's was through the Spanish, who were the only ones anywhere near the GLS at the time. However, the oldest maps I find featuring the GLS are French, followed by the Dutch then the English. All Spanish maps of the period (and even ones made prior to 1575) that I have seen feature the Colorado river, but not the GSL. How could it be that knowledge of the GLS passed under the noses of the Spanish scholars yet ended up in the hands of the French? I believe the answer lies with the "stolen" Mendoza Codex. I speculate that through this codex, Andre Thevet gained the knowledge he needed to correctly place the GSL on his 1575 map of the Western Hemisphere. It is an established fact that trade routes existed between Mesoamerican people and those that lived in what is now the southwestern United States prior to the arrival of Columbus (1492). Forged copper bells and parrot feathers have been discovered in Anasazi ruins dating back to the 1300's so it is not unreasonable to think that geographical knowledge, (particularly the locations of inhabited areas), was a part of those same trade routes. The Aztecs, through the codices, claim they migrated from the north prior to Cortez's arrival and certainly could have had knowledge of the GSL. Even more intriguing, these same "legends" told in other Aztec codices claim the Aztecs were originally from a city on an island in a large lake. This city was known to the Aztecs as Aztlan, and it's description bears striking resemblance to the stories of Cibola told by early explorers of the American southwest including Marcos de Niza in 1539, one of the first recorded Europeans to set foot in the American southwest. These stories fueled the famous expedition by Coronado in 1542, searching for the mythical Cibola (Aztlan?) which he never found. Is it irony then that the Great Salt Lake would remain undiscovered as well until Dominguez and Escalante in 1776? [/QB][/QUOTE]
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