June 30, 1520: A fierce battle breaks out in the capital of a great empire. The Aztec ruler, Montezuma II, is found dead. Aztec warriors chase Spanish invaders from Tenochtitlán (tay-nawch-teet-LAHN), their biggest city.
The fleeing Spanish carry bars of gold and other treasures they stole from the Aztecs. Some soldiers drop the gold as they try to escape through the city’s canals. Weighed down by the loot, others fall into the water and drown. To the Spanish, that night becomes known as La Noche Triste, or “the Sad Night.”
Now, nearly 500 years later, researchers have determined that a gold bar discovered in Mexico was part of the Aztec treasure lost on that historic night.