A piece of a 17th-century bronze cross which was found on a rocky side of the Grand Mesa 45 years ago has recently been reconsidered, sparking further investigation into what early Spanish explorers were doing on the 10,000- foot-high Grand Mesa.
Researchers have posited that the cross indicates that early Spanish explorers were not just looking for routes west. Rather, they were looking for the lost Aztec empire, reported the Denver Post. Researchers say the bit of cross is probably one of the most important Colorado artifacts found to date.
The cross is cast with images of King Constantine, a Knights Templar-style crown encircling a cross, and pikes and trumpets under a conquistador's shield. Years ago, the artifact was sent to a curator at the Hispanic Society of America in New York City, who dated it and explained some of the images. According to scholars, such crosses were commonplace Catholic symbols of that era.
Researchers will use ultra-sensitive metal detectors to comb a large area on the west of the mesa three days this week and take their findings to labs at Mesa State College for analysis.
A recently discovered artifact may indicate a larger and earlier presence of Catholic Spaniards in the Colorado area.