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From the deep jungles in Honduras, archaeologists have revealed their May 2012 discovery of the legendary Lost City of the Monkey God, also known as The White City. The search for this city has been ongoing since Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés arrived in Central America in 1519, and experienced a resurgence in the 1920s when American explorer Charles Lindbergh claimed to see the fabled city from an airplane.
The latest search for La Ciudad Blanca (Spanish for The White City) was led by a team of Honduran-American archaeologists and scientists, along with the help of the British Special Air Service. The city was reportedly found in the La Mosquitia region of Honduras, which contains over 32,000 square miles of untouched rain forest. The team surveyed extensive plazas, mounds, and an earthen pyramid that belonged to the unnamed culture of Honduras, which thrived for 1,000 years before vanishing around 1400 A.D.
The Honduran city was dubbed the Lost City of the Monkey God by explorer Theodore Morde when he visited a region close to the city in 1939. He claimed that the indigenous people of Honduras said there was a giant statue of a howler monkey-god buried underground, but Morde died before revealing its exact location. A deep crater within the city has been identified by scientists as a possible spot where the statue lies.
Artifacts found onsite in this pre-Mayan Honduras city include a stone half-human/half-feline shamanistic figurehead known as a were-jaguar (believed to be used in ritual games), stone ceremonial seats, an elaborate vessel decorated with snakes and vultures, and over 50 other works of art, mostly of half-human/half-animal hybrids) on the city’s surface. Scientists believe hundreds of artifacts lie underground in various burial chambers, and even more pre-Columbian artifacts are scattered throughout Honduras’ mountainous jungle region.
The archaeological team exploring Honduras thank LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology, along with satellites, radars, and drones for the find. Images from LIDAR revealed unnatural features that stretched for more than a mile through the La Mosquitia Valley. Christopher Fischer, a Mesoamerican archaeologist, found the area was almost entirely reshaped by the ancient civilization. He stated that to find the site in such an untouched condition was “rare.”
Currently, the archaeologists’ main concern is preventing deforestation in the area, which is occurring throughout Honduras, as close as within 12 miles of the Lost City of the Monkey God. They are currently taking preventive measures to keep illegal ranch operators away from the site by not publicly revealing its exact location. Virgilo Paredes Trapero, director for the Honduras Institute for Anthropology and History, stated that “the Honduran government is committed to protecting this area.”
Dr. Morell-Hart, archaeologist and cultural researcher in Honduras, claims that only about 40 percent of what is in the area has actually been discovered. She continued to say that what matters most about this find is not so much the Lost City of the Monkey God itself being discovered, but that it reveals something significant about the ancient Honduran people who inhabited the region over a thousand years ago.
By Danielle Kral