One of the refrains we hear repeatedly from fringe writers is the claim that archaeologists are unwilling to take folklore, myths, and legends seriously and reject efforts to seek out the truth behind stories of lost cities and vanished civilizations. Well, apparently events are transpiring in Honduras to give the lie to the idea that archaeologists don’t care about such things. At the America Geophysical Union meeting in Cancun yesterday, archaeologists presented the findings of exciting new technology that let them penetrate the Honduran jungle in search of the legendary Ciudad Blanca (White City), also known as Xucutaco.
This mysterious city of great wealth first appears in the fifth letter of Hernando Cortes to the Habsburg emperor Charles V. Cortes wrote:
…I hear of large and rich provinces and great lords who live in them in much state and magnificence; especially of one, called Hueitapalan, and, in another dialect, Xucutaco, of which I have heard for six years past, and during the whole of my journey have made inquiries about it and ascertained that it lies some eight or ten days’ march from Trujillo, which would be between fifty and sixty leagues. There are such wonderful reports about it that they excite my admiration, for, even if two-thirds of them should be untrue, it would nevertheless exceed Mexico in wealth and equal it in the grandeur of its towns, the multitude of its population, and its political organisation. (trans. F. A. MacNutt)
Cortes tried to find the city, but he failed to do so.
Many expeditions have tried to find the city, which some believe to be a myth. Now, a new technique called airborne light detection and ranging (LiDAR) has located what appear to be the ruins of pyramids, plazas, and roads—evidence of an ancient city beneath the jungle canopy. The findings are suggestive but tentative for the time being until a ground survey can be conducted. Of course it is impossible to know whether the abandoned city—if it is in fact a city—was the White City of legend, but it’s in the right area and matches the stories told of lost cities in the area reasonably well.
Did archaeologists duck their heads and scream that such a find overturns conventional wisdom and must therefore be shunned? Did they launch a conspiracy to hide the truth? No, the Honduran government and an interdisciplinary team are readying themselves to go out to the site to confirm that the technology has it right.
Also of interest: The ancient astronaut theorists’ world energy grid, which supposedly aligns to the locations of major ancient sites, failed to predict the existence of this city. No node appears in this Honduran location on any of the published grid maps. Similarly, the channeled spirit beings from Atlantis who supposedly detailed the pre-history of the Americas failed to describe the city. Just once I’d like to see ancient astronaut or Atlantis speculation actually predict the location of a lost civilization and then have one actually show up there.
Click here to read my follow-up on the Ciudad Blanca myth.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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