Exploring Lost Cities: Archaeological Adventures

Exploring Lost Cities: Archaeological Adventures – A “were-jaguar” figure, perhaps representing a combination of a human and a spirit animal, is part of an unburied ceremonial seat, or metate, one of the many artefacts found in making the ruins deep in the Honduran jungle.

In search of the legendary “City of the Monkey Gods,” explorers find untouched ruins of a lost culture.

Exploring Lost Cities: Archaeological Adventures

Adventures in Honduras have emerged from the jungle in a thrilling story of the discovery of a mysterious lost, unexplored city. The group is led to the countryside, which is uninhabited by a long-standing rumor that it is the location of the legendary “White City,” also known in ancient history as “The City of the Monkey God.”

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Archaeologists have explored and documented many plazas, earthworks, ruins, and clay pyramids from a culture that flourished a thousand years ago, then disappeared. The team, which returned from the site last Wednesday, also discovered an impressive cache of stone sculptures that had not been touched since the city was abandoned.

Honduran soldiers led a convoy to a village that served as a helicopter base to transport the expedition to a location in the Mosquitia rainforest where they explored the ruins of an ancient city.

Unlike the nearby Maya, this extinct culture has not been studied extensively and remains largely unknown. Archaeologists don’t even have a name for it.

Christopher Fisher, a Mesoamerican archaeologist with a team from Colorado State University, said the condition of the site, which has not been excavated, is “extremely rare.” He speculated that the vault, located beneath the pyramid, might be a gift.

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“The circumstances surrounding it are extraordinary,” Fisher said. “This is a very serious show, taking a property like this out of circulation.”

Above 52 objects are looking from the earth. It is clear that many more people are lying underground, can be buried. They include stone ceremonial chairs (called metates) and vessels carved with snakes, zoomorphic figures, and vultures.

The most obvious thing sticking out of the ground is the point of what Fisher thinks may be a “taken-jaguar,” perhaps indicating a shaman in a changed state of mind. On the other hand, the artefact may be related to the traditional football game that was part of pre-Columbian life in Mesoamerica.

“This figure appears to be wearing a helmet,” Fisher said. Team member Oscar Neil Cruz, chief archaeologist at the Honduran Institute of Anthropology and History (IHAH), believes the objects date from AD 1000 to 1400.

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The items were recorded but not released. To protect the site from hackers, its location is not revealed.

The ruins were discovered in May 2012, during an aerial survey of a remote valley in La Mosquitia, a vast area of ​​swamps, rivers, and mountains containing some of the last scientifically undiscovered sites in the world.

For a century, explorers and prospectors have been telling stories about the white outline of a lost city that can be seen above the forest floor. Indigenous stories tell of the “white house” or “cacao place” where the Indians took refuge from the Spanish authorities—a mysterious, mystical, Eden-like paradise from which no one ever returned.

British ex-SAS soldier Andrew Wood is breaking through thick trees to clear the way for scientists to explore archaeological sites that have previously been discovered using aerial imaging technology called lidar.

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Since the 1920s, many expeditions have sought the White City, or Ciudad Blanca. Eccentric explorer Theodore Morde climbed into the most famous of these artifacts in the 1940s, under the wing of the American Indian Museum (now part of the Smithsonian Institution).

Morde returned with thousands of artifacts from mosquitoes, claiming that he had infiltrated the city. According to Morde, the people of the village said that it had a huge image of the monkey god. He refused to reveal the location for fear, he said the place would be looted. He later killed himself and his site—if it existed at all—has yet to be identified.

To investigate it, in 2012, they received the help of the Center for Airborne Laser Mapping at the University of Houston. A Cessna Skymaster, carrying a million-dollar lidar scanner, flew over the valley, scanning the forest with laser light. Lidar can map the ground even through the rainforest, highlighting any possible archaeological features.

While the footage was being processed, they uncovered unnatural features that stretched more than a mile through the valley. When Fisher analyzed the image, he realized that the land along the river was almost human-made.

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The evidence of public and ceremonial structures, extensive earthworks and mounds, canals and ponds may lead Fisher to conclude that the settlement was, in fact, a pre-Columbian community.

Archeology is not recognized until it is “true.” The land survey team consisted of American and Honduran archaeologists, a lidar engineer, an anthropologist, an ethnobotanist, videographers, and support staff. Sixteen Honduran Special Forces provided security. The National Geographic Society sent a photographer and writer.

The expedition revealed on the ground all the features seen in the lidar images, and much more. It is truly an ancient city. However, archaeologists no longer believe that there is a “lost city,” or Ciudad Blanca, as described in the legends. They believe that Mosquitia harbors many types of “lost cities,” which together represent something more important – a lost civilization.

Anna Cohen, a graduate student in archeology at the University of Washington, documented a cache of more than 50 artifacts found in the forest. Following scientific principles, nothing is removed from the site. The scientists hope to travel soon to get more documents and excavate the site before the looters find it.

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In addition to looting, another threat to the newly discovered ruins is the cutting down of trees for grazing cattle, which can be seen here on the hillside on the way there. Meanwhile, deforestation can reach that point in a few years.

The valley has a huge carpet of rain forest that has made animals so primitive that it seems they have never seen humans before. The team clearing the landing area for the helicopter that transports the expedition said spider monkeys were eagerly descending from the trees above, and guinea fowl and a tapir were wandering around the grounds, unsuspecting. fear of human aliens.

“This is clearly an undisturbed rainforest in Central America,” said the expedition’s ethnologist, Mark Plotkin, who spent 30 years in Amazonia. “The need here cannot be fast.”

The region is also under serious threat. Logging for grazing has penetrated into the forest for about 12 kilometers from the valley. Large tracts of virgin rainforest are being illegally logged and burned to make room for cattle. This region has become one of the largest meat producing regions in Central America, supplying meat to fast food franchises in the United States.

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Apparently, this is the most undisturbed rainforest in Central America. The importance of this place cannot be overemphasized. Mark Plotkin, ethnobotanist

Virgilio Paredes Trapero, the director of IHAH, under whose supervision the expedition operates, spent several days at the site. He concluded: “If we don’t act now, most of the forest in this valley will disappear within eight years.” He spread his arms. “The Honduran government is determined to protect this area, but there is no money. We urgently need international support.”

This trip was made possible with the permission, cooperation, and support of the government of Honduras; Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández Avarado; Virgilio Paredes Trapero, director of the Honduran Institute for Anthropology and History (IHAH); Oscar Neil Cruz, Head of the Archeology Division of IHAH, together with Defense Minister Samuel Reyes and the army of Honduras under the command of Gen. Fredy Santiago Díaz Zelaya, and Gen. Carlos Roberto Puerto and Lt. Col. Willy Joel. Oseguera, and the soldiers of TESON, Honduran Special Forces.

Douglas Preston writes about archeology for the New Yorker and other publications. His book about Coronado’s search for seven cities of gold was published in 2017. Copyright © 2024, Los Angeles Times | Work order | Privacy Policy | CA level of totality | Do not post or share my personal information

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There are no vine-covered temples or impenetrable jungles here – just old-fashioned villages, floating brewpubs and colorful houses. along the shaded brick road.

Villagers search the fields and riverbanks for long periods of time for treasure and small pots, amassing large collections. Then there are those twisted stories about an expanding city on the Great Plains and a chief who drinks from a golden cup.

A few years ago, Donald Blakeslee, an anthropologist and archeology professor at Wichita State University, started putting things together. And what he found has prompted a rethinking of the traditional and early Midwest, where a large gap in American history can be filled.

Using documents written by Spanish conquistadors more than 400 years ago and several modern tools, Blakeslee found what he believed to be the lost city of Etzanoa, home to perhaps 20,000 people between 1450 and 1700.

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