The famed Honduran city called Ciudad Blanca (or The White City in English), which inspired explorers as famous as Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés to search for it, may have been found at last.
Archaeologists and filmmakers including Steven Elkins and Bill Benenson used ranging equipment known as lider that utilizes light detection while flying over Honduras’ Mosquitia region to find the lost city. Elkins said, “Some people believe it’s a bunch of hooey. Others believe that where there’s smoke there’s fire. I became captivated by it, and I decided to wait until technology advanced to produce a better way to find it than walking aimlessly through the jungle. Many years later, that opportunity presented itself.”
Cortés wrote Cortes Spanish emperor Charles V that he had heard Ciudad Blanca would “exceed Mexico in riches, and equal it in the largeness of its towns and villages.” Theodore Morde, an American, claimed he had found what he called the Lost City of the Monkey God in 1939. Morde was catalyzed into action by Charles Lindbergh, who said he had seen “an amazing ancient metropolis” when flying over the jungle. But Morde was killed in a car accident.
The Mosquitia region is remote, and dangerous, poisonous snakes, disease, and oppressive heat. Chris Begley, an expert on Honduras, said, “It’s mountainous. There’s white water. There are jumping vipers, coral snakes, fer-de-lance, stinging plants, and biting insects. And then there are the illnesses–malaria, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, Chagas’.”
Christopher Fisher and Stephen Leisz of Colorado State University, who are the chief archeologists for the Elkins-Beneneson group, said that the 1,500-year-old city had paved streets, parks, pyramids and an advanced irrigation system. Fisher added, “It opens the door into a lost world. Archaeology is on the cusp of a technological transformation. It’s going to transform our understanding of the Americas.”