Researchers from the University of Houston have used a high-tech mapping system to discover a lost city hidden away in the jungles of Honduras. The discovery has led some archaeologists and historians to wonder if the legendary Ciudad Blanca, or White City, has been found after nearly five centuries of searching.
The team that made the discovery was using a sophisticated system of lasers attached to a low flying airplane to map the remote landscapes of Honduras. The system, which is accurate within inches, is able to penetrate the dense jungle canopy and create a detailed image of the topography below. While examining those images the researchers discovered the city, which features a number of structures surrounding a large open plaza. That plaza is flanked on both ends by pyramids, one large and one small.
The discovery has prompted some to speculate that the ruins could be the fabled Ciudad Blanca, which is well known in Central American folklore as the birthplace of the Aztec serpent-god Quetzalcoatl. The city is also said to have been fabulously wealthy and legends tell of intricately carved white statues that gleamed brilliantly in the sun, earning the place its name. The allure of Ciudad Blanca was so great that over the centuries many explorers went in search of its gold, including Spanish conquistador Hernando Cortes who first mentioned the city in his writing back in 1526.
In order to explore the site further archaeologists will now have to organize an expedition to visit the site in person. That journey will not be an easy one, however, as the dense jungle will make passage very difficult. What they find when they get there will remain a mystery for now, but it seems likely that it will be a fabulous discovery, with or without the gold.
[Photo credit: National Center for Airborne Laser Mapping/University of Houston]