In rural Kansas, the lost city of Etzanoa comes to light

In rural Kansas, the lost city of Etzanoa comes to light

ARKANSAS CITY, KS (RNN) - Anyone who says the study of the humanities is a waste of time should consider what was discovered in southern Kansas.

A Native American lost city called Etzanoa has been found in and around Arkansas City, and you can visit the exhibit.

Donald Blakeslee, an archaeology and anthropology professor at Wichita State University, helped uncover a major piece of Midwestern history.

Blakeslee said the site, which was home to possibly 20,000 people between the 1450s and the 1700s, is thought to be the second-largest native American settlement in North America after ancient Cahokia, IL.

As of the 2010 census, the population of Arkansas City was 12,400, just more than half of the lost city of Etzanoa.

Thanks to advances in scholarship, he knew where to look.

Scholars at the University of California at Berkeley in 2013 provided more refined translations of records from Spanish explorers who traveled through what is now Kansas, the Los Angeles Times reported.

"I wanted to see if the archaeology fit their descriptions," he said. "Every single detail matched this place," he told the Times.

Etzanoa, home to a Wichita tribe, was visited by the founder of New Mexico, Don Juan de Onate, in 1601.

Considered the last Spanish conquistador, he came to the area in search of riches - the fabled "Seven Cities of Gold." He didn't find them.

But his visit would pay off in other ways, providing descriptions of the city. The Spanish also forced a captive to draw a map.

The Battle of Etzanoa between Spanish explorers and the Excanxaques, a rival tribe to the inhabitants of Etzanoa, who the Spanish called the Rayados, occurred just south of the city in 1601.

According to the accounts, Onate took the chief of the Rayados captive, as well as some of the women, before releasing them unharmed. However, the Spanish took some boys back to New Mexico to convert them to christianity.

By the time Europeans visited the area again, in the 1700s, the city was gone, possibly ravaged by European diseases introduced by the Spaniards, NPR said.

People in the eastern part of Arkansas City have been finding loads of artifacts for years, and archaeologists have conducted some digs in the area. However, the extent of the settlement wasn't understood until the archaeological study that began in 2015, the Etzanoa Conservancy said.

The conservancy, a nonprofit organization, said they are working to gain recognition for the site. They also want to develop learning opportunities for students and tourists and a visitors center, as well as recognition as a National Historic Landmark, National Historic Battlefield and World Heritage Site.

In the meantime, the Etzanoa Conservancy said it welcomes visitors to view their exhibit.

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