Archaeologists have confirmed previous reports uncovering an unknown civilsation in the Honduran rain forest in Mosquitia. There have been rumours of the existence of “the White City” or “The City of the Monkey God” (paging Indiana Jones) virtually since the Spanish arrived in Central America, but no one had been able to find it. Several people claimed to, of course, but their “discoveries” had never been confirmed.
The first indications of the site’s existence—really, I should write “sites’ existence”, since they have found clusters of cities—was done a few years ago with special airborne, military-grade radar called LIDAR. LIDAR itself is fascinating: lasers hit the ground millions of times per second, and can bounce off foliage to uncover difficult-to-see, human-built structures. National Geographic has an article about the technology looking at my native Connecticut—the accompanying imagery which illustrates the technology well. Indeed, LIDAR could revolutionise archaeology. Mapping out human structures in a rain forest is extremely difficult work—what would take years to map out on the ground can be done in minutes.
What’s also interesting is the claim that this is an unknown civilisation—presumably the finds are sufficiently different from neighbouring people like the Maya, Aztecs & Olmecs. What a treat to be able to see this stuff. I have an amateur’s interest in Central American archaeology, and these photos bring back some good memories.