Montezuma’s Golden Treasure

Portrait of Hernan Cortes
Hernan Cortés

In February 1519 a fleet of Spanish ships landed on the coast of Mexico. Onboard was a force of nearly six hundred Conquistadors; led by the infamous Hernán Cortés, they had come to Mexico to conquer the land and convert its people to Christianity.

And if they all got filthy rich in the process, that was okay too!

When news of the strange, white-skinned men reached the Aztec emperor, Montezuma, he must have been reminded of the prophecy of Quetzalcoatl, the Aztec sun god, which stated that one day the god would return to the land of the Aztec to claim his throne – and he would be known by his shining hair and white skin.

Montezuma dispatched servants bearing rich gifts for the newly arrived gods in hopes that they would go away and leave him in charge.

But Montezuma’s plan backfired – when Cortés saw the precious objects, crafted from gold and silver, he knew he’d come to the right place – he immediately set his sights on the Aztec’s capitol city of Tenochtitlán, (present day Mexico City).

On November 18, 1519, Cortés entered the Aztec capital and was received as a god at a lavish ceremony in Montezuma’s palace.

Montezuma was use to being at the top of the food-chain, so after the ceremony he once again tried to persuade Cortés and his men to leave the city by offering more gifts of gold and silver, but this just intensified the Spaniards lust for gold. Cortés placed Montezuma under house arrest and then, along with about 600 native Tlaxcalan allies, the Spaniards set up base in one of the Aztec’s many ceremonial temples.

Montezuma’s Treasure

golden aztec idol

Gathered through years of brutal conquests over other Mesoamerican civilizations, Montezuma’s treasury was vast.

According to legend his horde included: two gold collars, a huge alligator’s head of gold, one hundred ounces of gold, birds and other sculptures studded with precious gems, wheels of gold and silver in different sizes and many other priceless objects.

With Montezuma imprisoned the conquistadors went about ransacking his palace where they found a secret vault so full of treasure that it took three days just to divide the spoils. It was enough to make every Spaniard rich beyond his wildest dreams – but still they wanted more…

In the following months Cortés began a bloody campaign of terror. His men terrorized the city, torturing and killing it’s inhabitants in an attempt to obtain even more treasure – including the location of the fabled city of El Dorado.


The Aztecs eventually grew weary of the Spaniard’s tyranny, and over time they began to question Cortés’ divinity as well, so when a group of conquistadors destroyed one of the cities main temples, and slaughtered it’s high priests, things turned against the Spaniards.

portrait of montezuma
The Emperor Montezuma

On June 30, 1520, the Aztec people rose against the Spaniards. Cortés forced the imprisoned Montezuma to appear upon the piazza of his house in an attempt to pacify his subjects. But apparently, the people had had enough of Montezuma as well. The Emperor was stoned to death by his own people.

With their hostage dead, Cortés and his men were forced to flee the city. They retreated amid a full on uprising, attacked from all sides by Aztec spears and stones.

As the conquistadors fled the city, they threw down their newly won fortunes, littering the cities’ network of concentric irrigation channels with the treasure they had stolen from Montezuma’s treasury.

Many of Cortés’ men died on that dark and rainy night. It’s said that the bodies of the dead were piled so high in the citie’s canals that one could walk across them, from one side to the next – a grisly bridge of corpses.

The night came to be known as La Noche Triste (The Sad Night).


Cortés rebuilt his army and a year later returned to Tenochtitlan. On August 13, 1521, with the help of his Tlaxcalan allies, Cortés took the city back. The new Aztec emperor, Cuauhtémoc, was captured while fleeing the city and tortured to reveal the locations of the Aztec treasure.

But even with his feet held in a fire, the doomed Emperor couldn’t produce more than a canoe full of trinkets. According to Cuauhtémoc, the treasure was forever lost.

In desperation Cortés allowed for the torturing of anybody who he thought might help him discover the location of the treasure, men, women or children.

As the story goes, the only information ever gleaned by torturing these poor people was that the treasure had been taken north and hidden at the bottom of a lake. Cortés would later search approximately 5,000 lakes in the surrounding regions in an effort to find Montezuma’s treasure…

He never did.

Where did Montezuma’s Treasure go?

There are many theories about what happened to Montezuma’s Treasure. Some historians believe that it remains right where it was dropped that fateful night when the Conquistadors fled from Tenochtitlan, buried for all time beneath layers of silt and cement of modern day Mexico city.

Others believe the treasure was retrieved from the irrigation channels by the Spaniards when they took the city back, sent to Spain, then lost at sea when the ship that carried it was sunk by a tropical storm. But surely the most interesting theory involves an incredible journey of Biblical proportion.


There’s a persistent tale handed down by descendants of the Aztecs in Costa Rica – it goes a little something like this:

When Cortés and his soldiers were driven from Tenochtitlan on La Noche Triste, the Aztec high Priests knew it would only be a matter of time before the Spaniards returned. They realize that they could not defend against the conquistador’s superior weapons forever – their civilization was doomed.

The priests dug up the body of their fallen leader, Montezuma, then led a procession of more than 2,000 men on a mass exodus in search a new land to the north, a land that would be safe from the barbaric Spaniards.

The priests took with them the collected treasures of the Aztec empire, tons of gold and silver in the form of sacred religious objects they would need to reestablish their once great civilization.

According to the legend, the treasure-bearing slaves traveled in a northwesterly direction for many moons, and when they came to a mountain on the edge of a desert, the treasure was hidden and the slaves put to death.

There is much disagreement about just how far north the exodus traveled, but certainly the most interesting theory circulating among the treasure hunting community is that the treasure was carried over two thousand miles to southern Utah… Yep, that’s right… Aztec treasure in Utah.

The Strange Story of Freddy Crystal

According to legend, In 1920 Freddy Crystal, a miner and amateur treasure hunter was in Mexico city searching through an old church that had been tagged for demolition when he found a treasure map tucked inside a long forgotten manuscript.

The manuscript, written by a Spanish Friar at the time of the conquest of Tenochtitlan, stated that the map had been drawn using information gained during the torture of one of the original Aztec porters of Montezuma’s treasure, and if followed would lead directly to the cache.

According to the manuscript the Spaniards tried for many years to follow the map but were unfamiliar with the territories to the North and eventually gave up in frustration.

Crystal had spent time in Utah several years before trying to decipher Aztec petroglyphs on the canyon walls, so when he saw the old map he realized that some of the landmarks depicted on it were similar to the geography of Southern Utah… or rather, one place in particular that was on the outskirts of a little town by the name of Kanab.

map of Kanab Utah

The Treasure Hunt of the Century

Crystal made a bee-line back to Southern Utah where the map lead him to Johnson Canyon. He immediately found signs that he was in the right place, Aztec petroglyphs littered the area and clues on the map eventually directed him to an ancient set of stairs cut directly into the side of White Mountain.

Crystal followed the steps up to a sealed entrance which he broke down revealing a long dark corridor. On both sides of the corridor were ancient statues. Crystal thought he’d hit the jackpot – now he just needed help excavating the plethora of tunnels in the surrounding area; so he headed into the town of Kanab to try and recruit diggers.

The Kanabites were well aware of the Aztec petroglyphs in the area and had heard stories of Montezuma’s Treasure since they were kids, so when Crystal presented his collection of clues it started a veritable gold rush.

Johnson Canyon Tunnels

Many of the tunnels in Johnson Canyon are still accessible, though the Department of Oil Gas and Mining (OGM) announced recently that they were going to begin back-filling the tunnels. A Utah group called Gold Rush Expeditions is spearheading the drive to keep these historic tunnels open for future generations to explore.

Freddy crystals cave

Hundreds of people volunteer for the chance to participate in the greatest treasure hunt of all time. A coalition was organized by the town council in which people could volunteer a certain number of hours per week to the excavation in exchange for a share of the treasure; at one point as many as 75% of the population of Kanab was involved in the treasure hunt.

The excavation went on for almost three years, clearing deadfall after deadfall, finding relics and ancient items, but never the gold.

Finally, with the tunnels all reopened and no gold found the townspeople drifted back to their day to day lives and forget about the tunnels up in Johnson canyon.

Some believe the treasure was actually buried at the base of White Mountain, which unfortunately is now buried under tons of rock and dirt from the Crystal excavations.

Other Theories on the Treasure’s Location

There are many other theories about what happened to Montezuma’s Treasure, but none of them are half as fun as the Utah theory:

The Grand Canyon

There are similar legends of Aztec Treasure in the Grand Canyon which you can read all about in this article called The Aztec Treasure Cavern, originally published in Treasure Magazine.

Lake Tezcuco

Some believe that when the inhabitants of Tenochtitlán got wind of the Spaniards return, they buried the remains of the city’s treasure in and around Lake Tezcuco to prevent it from falling prey to the gold-crazed Conquistadors.

Today, a vast treasure trove may still remain hidden beneath nearly five centuries of mud and sludge on the outskirts of Mexico City, the modern day incarnation of Tenochtitlán.

Generations of treasure seekers have sought the lost hoard without success. A former president of Mexico even had the lake bed dredged, but no treasure was found.


According to information first discovered by an archaeologist named Thomas Gann, Montezuma’s treasure was not sent north, but south into the jungles of Guatemala to keep it from the Spanish.

The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine – Arizona

Some believe there’s a link between the Legendary Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine and Montezuma’s Gold. Jacob Waltz, (the Dutchman) found a source of pure, raw gold in the Superstition Mountains of Arizona, a location geologists say is devoid of gold deposits.

It’s this apparently lack of mineral evidence which has led some researchers to speculate that the Dutchman may have actually stumbled over Montezuma’s fabled Lost Aztec Treasure.

Last Updated:

31 thoughts on “Montezuma’s Golden Treasure”

  1. In 1956, I had a dream that went back in history, to the early days of the Spain Conquest of Mexico. In this dream I saw a large group of indians carrying gold looking items fleeing and saw the river filled with crocodiles where they dump their loads as the spanish soldiers looked on helplessly from a distance. In the dream I saw a landmark. Since then I have never been able get that dream or the landmark from my mind.

    After the gold was dump into the river a fight berween the spanish soldiers and the indians ensued. This is when I woke up. If there were any surviving spanish soldiers, I don’t think they had the means to retrieve the gold from the river because of the alligators. And if no one have found the treasure since may be because it is no longer in the bottom of the river but somewhere deep underneath. How far deep, who knows?, but in my mind I know it is still there. I believe one of my ancestors must have been there. There is no other explanation why I would dream a dream About that part in history.

    If any one has the means to go look for the treasure

  2. how old are you now? where were you born? why do you want to know if someone want to go digging treasures? what ancestors? the aztec, that happend more than 500 hundred years ago, but to be honest that would be nice.

  3. i too had dream’s Like the one you had! it was 1993 i got kick out of school so my dad did not no what to do with me so he send me alway to Valle de santiago Guanajuato Mexico. and every other nite i had real Dream’s this is not fake i hate telling what happen becuz they Look at me like if i;m 5150 and full of shit. but no it’s Real the Azteca will come to me at nite some where nice but others were not, i was 13 in 1993! i’m 30 now and it’s 2009 about to be 2010 anyhow

  4. I draw on rocks the pictures that i draw is what comes out from the rocks.Places I never been to then I end up there. And thats how I got my map of the treasure I am to find

  5. the spanish explores mest everything up!
    the aztec put up a fight against those bastards but how can they compete with the more modern weapons , the aztec still used pre-historic weapons while the spanish had gun powdered weapons all i gotta say is if the spanish never came, mexico would have been a better nation , look at them now! they lack money so they make the easy money by being narcos!i dnt blame them

  6. I have found the treasure rooms and rooms of gold I am so overwhelmed I don’t know what to do with my find. I would tell the government but I am afraid they will cheat me out of it. I have been looking for forty years and I guess that its location will die with me because I don’t trust the government stooges to protect it from being destroyed so they can pay off the national debt. (keep your eyes peeled for future postings and pictures) but that is all I will share with you, so you wannabe treasure hunters can giveup hoping to find it.

  7. I would be a fool if I gave you that information so just suffice it to say it has been found and that is all i am willing to say at this time.
    In the near future I will be posting pictures for all you dweebs to see.

  8. I will tell you this one time a general locator would be in northern arizona around the vicinity of mt. logan. That is as specific as I will get good luck finding anything I have hidden the entrance so well that i could walk right past it and not know what or where i was.
    have fun.

  9. Who are you that seems to want me to tell of its location are you a government stooly, that gets a reward for snitching on people like me, because I have found what you are looking for. Don’t be too pissed if I wont tell you exactly where it is but I have given you a pretty good reference point now lets see if you can figure it out the treasure lies inside an ice cave up the side of a mountain near to mount logan on the arizona strip. The bodies that are buried with the treasure are there they have been mumified by the cold that exists inside of the treasure room. They are for sure aztec they were all buried with the treasure and they are decked out in gold. Upon my return this spring I will take some pictures so you can see what I am talking about.
    Good luck hunting since the treasure is no longer a mystery, It is truly overwhelming to look at the piles of gold and jewel incrusted ornate jewelry that is dripping off the mummies within the ice cave.
    Well like I said at the start who are you and how long have you been looking for the treasure.

  10. Well Joseph if you are telling the truth im not sure,but I’v been looking for about 3 yrs I bet I could tell you what the inside of that cave looks like. I’d like to tell you about it?But not on here.Im not any kind of government or anything like that..

  11. I am not that gullible are you, I will take some pictures this spring so you will just have to wait and see, however do you think I am that guliball so as to reveal my identity to you nice try you will just have to take it on faith and know that I will liquidate the wealth and give it away to the needy and those who are hurting, perhaps I can stop the plague upon our land the human suffering. Money doesn’t mean anything to me therefore I will give it all away.
    again take care and have a good day.

  12. I guess You feel really screwed looking for something that is no longer out there to be found you must feel liking kicking yourself over and over. I have all the gold and jewels that are there for me to take and enjoy, and what does that do for you having expended wasted time and money all for nothing you must really feel rather shitty. Maybe I will leave you a little gold so you won’t feel too bad I will even tell you where my find is so you can have payback for your lost costs and in so doing I will allow you to save face and maybe you won’t kick yourself in your ass for being dupped by me. It has taken me thirty years to do the impossible, have a nice day if you can.

  13. Joseph…if you are for reals I congratulate you on your find.Theres no reason to be mad,you can do alot of good with it.I would like to see the place where you found it though,If you want you can email me at that would be great!

  14. I appreciate your desire to talk about it or for me to show you where it is so you can go and see it for yourself. Well I will post some pictures in a couple of weeks just as soon as the weather permits. The above address is fake and I won’t write you on the presented email and any thing divulged will not happen so you will have to settle for what I give you on this site.
    I have told you where the find is on mount logan in arizona strip so if you wish to look for it go for it and if you can find it feel free to see what I am talking about.
    Have a great time and good luck.

  15. Good inputs from Tolongges. A lot of things he mentioned have been done by our experienced T.Hunter assisting us. Those bits of informations from Tolongges show that he obviously knows what he is talking about. Lets hope Tolongges shares more of those inputs in this thread. Now thats what we call golden-bits-of-info from a Golden-boy. Thanks for the inputs Tolongges. Sana every now and then magbigay ka rin hints on what could be encountered, what to see, or what to expect at a certain depth or layer while digging a typical site ( identified mo rin kung ano or sinong Japanese group). Napakalaking guide para sa karamihan. Sana maipamahagi ang iyong kaalaman.

  16. Joeseph,
    I’m not a treasure hunter. But I do value historical artifacts and our history. You claim to have found the lost treasure. Congratulations! But I do think you are a fraud. That’s just my opinion. For one thing. Why would you want to post all this information if you don’y want anyone to find it? You said you had been looking for the treasure for 30years? Or was it 40 years? Which is it? Look at your postings. Are you really going to help the needy, or are you going to enjoy it for yourself? Given the years you have been searching for this lost treasure. You must be around 50-60 years old? Your language in which you speak is not what I would expect from a mature adult. So how are you going to cash all this gold in? Are you going to go to the bank and say, “I’m going to deposit some gold”? To me, you’re no different from a looter and a grave robber. You said there mummified bodies with jewels on them. How would you like it if someone dug up your anscestors and stole their jewels? You folks out there need to understand that it’s ok treasure hunt. But you need to remember that this was sacred ground for the Aztecs. You guys need to do the right thing. I’m sure there is plenty of wealth to go around and share. Don’t let greed get the best you guys. Report the find should you come across it. Let the professionals (archeologists) collect these delicate artifacts. Your reward will be the find itself. Share your find so the world can see. Don’t let this stuff go to the black market. For one thing, you won’t get a fraction of what it’s worth. It’s like selling something stolen. I’m assuming this is on government property? So Mr. LONGDONG (you name fits you BTW) Do the right thing. And show a little respect for the dead. Nothing wrong with helping the needy. But don’t steal. BTW, where are the pictures you promised our audeince? Have a great day! 🙂

  17. why the hell would I want to help the needy they didn’t help me pay my expenses over all the years. I am not a fraud you are somewhat of an ass to have the brass balls to call me a liar just for that I will not post here anymore you kind of fucked up so go stroke your chicken as that is all the excitement you will get for yourself, If you had been a little more respectful I might have shared but to hell with you and all the other jackasses on this site.
    get fucked if you know how. or are you just choking your chicken. Oh I have pictures but a dick head like you doesn’t deserve to see them and further fuck your self richteous spudum you are no more than a hippocrit, You are just pissed because I found what you couldn’t find and you can be damned if you will ever see it you really screwed the pooch you could have seen the glory but now you can just kick yourself in the ass and just think all the money you spent is wasted and I will laugh at you all the way to the bank, NUMNUTS; ask me if i give a rats ass about your bullshit and threats I have it and you don’t ha ha the laughter is on you fool.
    I will shove my longdong up your donkey ass and make you suck all off how does that make you feel convict.

  18. Oh Joseph,
    Please calm down. You are sooo easily angered. How old (mature) are you again to be talking with such profanity? Didn’t you hear what I said. I said “Congratulations”! You can do what you want. I just simply said, “Do the right thing”. But do what you wish. I think this site will be better without you anyway. Leave this site for the mature folks.
    I simply just gave you my opinion. I don’t think you have it. But go ahead and shove that gold through the bank, but I think they only take dollar bills and paper checks. Not real gold. BTW, I wasn’t threatening you in anyway either. Again, I was just merely asking you to show proof of your find. But that’s ok. I don’t care to see it anyway. Like I said before. I’m not a treasure hunter. I’ll leave that to the other folks who are willing and able to do so. I don’t need that kind of money. You see Joseph. I am plenty rich. What I do with my time is my business. So yes, my balls are indeed made of brass. I can afford it. And if you want to laugh at me. Then go ahead. I’m right down the street. Anytime! Have a good life Mr. Longdong Head!!! I’m glad none of us will ever see you on this site again. As far as respect? I hope you found some in all the gold along with some maturity. Grow up, will you? You sound like a little 13 year old kid.

  19. if u found the stuff so y did u not post the pictures like u said u were going to? i do not think u found it if u did prove it to us with the picture then i will aplogize 2 u 4 calling u a liar 4 not posting it i dont think u found it like u say u did. or email me the pictures then i will send u an apolgy 4 calling u a liar ok or mail me the pictures at “general delivery safford arizona 85546” to prove me wrong joeseph longdong

  20. Longdong’s post is intriguing and is not far fetched, there are many discoveries that never make the media or news. In all reality gold drives people nuts, and the issue with finding treasure is it seems even though you found it many will think it doesn’t belong to you as it was there from someone else, therefore the mentality is it isn’t really your even though you found it.

    Longdong’s claim of finding this treasure and being protective of it is understandable. Look at other cases of treasure being discovered a quick google of Victorios peak will show how the unites states army in all aspects fucked over the discoverer of the treasure, or better yet the gold found Ina sunken ship reclaimed by Spain even though there lazy asses never looked for it the link is here

    Longdong’s claim may not be far fetched as there are three main points to look for when looking for hidden treasure. 1. Water source nearby 2. Particular days journey from a specific civilization or population and 3. A specific marker point such as a pointed mountain weird formation. In this case we could say the Aztecs followed the Colorado River number 1 journeyed 30 days to this point where he claims he found it and three 3 specific marker being the brightly colored canyons and mountains in the Arizona strip area. Is it far fetched to believe the aztecs went this far? Kind of however was it possible yes it was they most likely did follow the Colorado river to survive and headed north.

    If Longdong’s claim is indeed true there are other possibilities that it may not be Aztec but of another native American source as it is possible a civilization may have existed thousands of years ago in the Arizona area and what longdong has found is indeed an unrecorded civilization from years ago. Whatever the case if what he claims is true it would be one of the most important archeological finds of the century.

    So I say to you Longdong if you indeed have pictures or if you could at least email me a picture of one of the artifacts for identification I can indeed determine if it is Aztec, Myan or of a more indiginouse culture of the area such as a derivative or ancestor derived from the Uto Aztecan languages of the great basin area a ancestral culture that may have no record of existing but is believed to have existed and started the spreading of these other cultures in the surrounding area.

    This evidence is based upon the linking of all native American languages and beliefs to one or two focal points of major civilizations, I have recorded many accounts of an Egyptian looking type culture existing in the grand canyon area and that this culture was prone to living within the mountains. I can be contacted at

Leave a Comment