Earlier this week, the Inquisitr reported on an ancient city found deep in the Honduras Rain Forest that had been previously lost for 600 years. Recent reports from the expedition coming out of Honduras — led by Christopher Fisher, a Mesoamerican archaeologist from Colorado State University — state that a second lost city has also been found.
The search for the mythical City of the Monkey God, or La Ciudad Blanca (The White City), has been ongoing since Spanish Conquistadors heard rumours about a city with extraordinary wealth hidden somewhere in the jungles of Honduras, in the sixteenth century. Expeditions were launched in the 1920s, 30s, and 50s, and again in the 1990s, when interest in the legendary “White City” was once again renewed, but all proved fruitless.
In 2012, however, two documentary filmmakers, Steve Elkins and Bill Benenson embarked on a journey into the Mosquitia region of Honduras that would ultimately lead to the discovery of the two lost cities. With the help of the Honduran government, as well as the Center for Airborne Laser Mapping, the two filmmakers took a Cessna Skymaster airplane over the dense jungle of La Mosquitia, and were able to snap shots of the ground below with a LiDAR scanner, which uses remote sensing and lasers to produce high-resolution maps.
When Christopher Fisher had a chance to analyze the pictures taken by the LiDAR, he made the discovery that a part of the landscape, nearly a mile long, was wholly man-made. Upon “ground-truthing” the area — which is the process of sending a team out to examine the ground for patterns revealed through remote sensing — Fisher’s group of archaeologists, engineers, and anthropologists discovered the first lost city. Further investigation of the surrounding areas revealed the second. The two cities contained the remnants of houses, plazas, burial mounds, and a pyramid, as well as other, more surprising aspects “much like an English garden, with orchards and house gardens, fields of crops, and roads and paths.”
The sites of the two lost cities, having remained untouched by human hands for 600 years is “incredibly rare,” according to Fisher, who makes his point further by stating that the indigenous animals of the area had never even seen a human before. An ethnobotanist with the team, Mark Plotkin, noted “This is clearly the most undisturbed rain forest in Central America, the importance of this place can’t be overestimated,” which makes the potential for permanent ruin of the both the first and second city due to deforestation even more devastating.
The country of Honduras has one of the highest rates of poverty in the Western Hemisphere, with half of its people living below the poverty line. Cattle ranching has become one of the most lucrative ventures for Hondurans, and most of their beef is sold to fast-food restaurants in the United States. However, lack of grazing pastures has forced ranchers to cut into the jungle in order to maintain their farming. According to National Geographic, ranching has checkerboarded the jungle to within a dozen miles of the valley, where the two cities are located. A representative for the IHAH (the Institute for History and Anthropology of Honduras) says that the government wants to save the jungle, but simply does not have the money to do so, and that they “urgently need international support.”
To think that these lost cities, so recently found, face destruction in as little as eight years, is catastrophic, not only to Honduras, but to the world of archaeology as a whole, especially when the discovery of the second city could mean something even more significant: an entire lost civilization. Christopher Fisher perfectly expressed the devastation faced by the lost cities when he spoke with The Guardian.
“I keep thinking of those monkeys looking at me not having seen people before. To lose all this over a burger, it’s a really hard pill to swallow.”
[Image Credits: National Geographic]