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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Alas! Cortes's Lost City of Gold Has Been Found! Maybe?



The lost City of Gold may be in our grasp! Scientists may have found La Ciudad Blanca or the “White City” that was rumored to be filled to the brim with riches beyond our wildest imagination. Discoveries in the Mosquitia region of Honduras show a mapping of ancient structures buried beneath the foliage. Just a hint of the ancients come to life through technology and research. No one has dared to enter upon the doorsteps but plans are underway to explore the ruins by land and see if its riches and curses are true. 

A group of archeologists and filmmakers began the search for the fabled city over a year ago. Using an imaging mapping method called Lidar the filmmakers Steven Elkins and Bill Benenson were able to map the area. It was these maps that were sent to an engineer from the University of Houston to analyze and find structures. That engineer also found additional buildings in the area to the glee of everyone involved in the project. 

Lidar uses a laser that bounces off of the surface to create images. The system provides light detection and ranging of changes in the contour of the surface. By attaching such equipment to planes the area was canvassed based upon research and historical legend. The 3D images were then used to model what the structures might look like without plant coverings.

The structures seem to be arranged into a type of pattern that indicates an evolved civilization. They are believed to include palaces, houses, and pyramids on the edge of a cliff. If true the discovery would uncover a lost civilization with its culture, economics, engineering, and methods to life. Such wonderments offer an opportunity to view different ways of existing in this ever smaller world. 

The legend is fueled from a letter written in 1526 by conquistador Hernán Cortés to the Spanish King Charles V. The Mosquitia region stayed unconquered by Europeans and few explored the area to present times. Cortes and others explored the rumored city throughout the 1500’s and never found it. Only in the past century have explorers been able to slowly gain ground and uncovered important clues that led to a new discovery.

Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro was a Spanish explorer from a lesser class of nobility who chose, due to his lack of funds, to find riches in the New World. His exploration led to the fall of the Aztec nation as well as the claiming of large parts of Mexico to the Spanish Kingdom. He started his exploration in 1504 being delayed a year after an incurred injury while running from a married bed. He spent his time listening to tales of sailors, trying to build a life in the colonies, engaged in military campaigns, and finally set forth on his expedition to explore the Mexican interior on 1518. 

You may read Cortes’s full fifth letter to King Charles V (LETTER). 

I have trustworthy reports of very extensive and rich provinces, and of powerful chiefs ruling over them, and of one in particular, called Hueitapalan, and in another dialect Xucutaco, about which I possessed information six years since, having all this time made inquiries about it, and ascertained that it lies eight or ten days’ march from that town of Trujillo, or rather between fifty and sixty leagues. So wonderful are the reports about this particular province, that even allowing largely for exaggeration, it will exceed Mexico in riches, and equal it in the largeness of its towns and villages, the density of its population, and the policy of its inhabitants.” - Hernán Cortés, 1926,

A few centuries latter in 1939 the explorer Theodore Morde also claimed to find the Lost City of Monkey Gold. Some Historians believe it is the same city. The civilization was rumored to once have inhabitants that worshipped the monkey, contained abundant riches and engaged in a monkey dance of the dead. In 1940 the Milwaukee Sentinel ran a headline in their (NEWSPAPER): 

Explorer Theodore Morde Finds in Honduras Jungles a Vanished Civilization’s Prehistoric Metropolis where Sacrifices were made to the Gigantic Idol of an Ape – and Describes the Weird “Dance of the Dead Monkeys” still Practiced by Natives in Whom Runs the Old Blood-Milwaukee Sentinel

Whether legend or real the researchers plan to make their way into the lush jungle to find out precisely what they are seeing. Assuming that these are not just well crafted natural rock formations under the vegetation they will find something of value and contribution. Is it the Lost City or not will depend on the pictures, research, language, and additional discoveries of the area. 

Such research is interesting in that it is an untapped source to explain how humans lived with and among each other. We often discount other cultures and societies when their economic and social lives may be blended to enhance our own. Each time we discover something new it would be in our best interest to learn how the society existed and try to determine how their vantage point can enhance our own. 



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