The president of Honduras embraced the myth of the lost White City of the Monkey God in a speech delivered to university students this week. According to published accounts, Pres. Juan Orlando Hernández announced that a team of archaeologists had set out on Wednesday for the site of the lost city during a speech to private university students at the presidential palace in honor of the nation’s literacy program. The president made plain that he was embracing the myth out of a sense of national pride and for potential economic reward.
“Right now people in Europe are watching documentaries about Honduras,” Hernández said in a Spanish-language speech I am translating here from a transcript. “And the magnitude of the exposure Honduras has received is something we have not had before.” La Prensa, a Honduran newspaper, explained that a recent National Geographic Channel documentary on the site attracted 60 million viewers in 15 countries.
Hernández visited the site of the supposed lost city last spring and has embraced the potential value of the site for Honduras over the past year.
Hernández added that the so-called Ciudad Blanca would be a major tourist attraction for Honduras. “The rest of humanity is talking about us and the White City in terms of tourism, and we must place this in the context of the new infrastructure we are building in terms of highways, airports, and ports. We must prepare as a country to take advantage of this great opportunity.”
In other words, the White City’s true value is the publicity it can generate among credulous Europeans and Americans who might visit the country to see an archaeological site that can be passed off as the fictitious city of legend.
There is, of course, no evidence that the ancient site currently being excavated was ever the supposed White City of the Monkey God, especially since the story of such a city does not predate the twentieth century.
The deep origins of the myth allegedly start with letters written by Hernán Cortes and Cristóbal de Pedraza describing, respectively, a wealthy Honduran city and a place where nobles drink from golden cups. The letters are real, but they make no mention of a White City or a monkey god. Nothing much happened after this until the twentieth century, when Eduard Conzemius recorded a version of the legend in “Los Indios Payas de Honduras” in the Journal de la Société des Américanistes 19 (1927). Therein Conzemius attributed the story to a secondhand account told of rubber tapper who alleged that he had stumbled across ruins of white buildings sometime between 1900 and 1910. “All the Indians say that they do not know of it and that it is all a myth,” Conzemius reported. Somehow, around 1958, this account from 1927 became conflated with archaeological survey flights conducted by Charles Lindbergh in British Honduras (now Belize) in 1929, and after 1958 it was claimed that Lindbergh had discovered the ruins of the White City. No such record exists, but it the legend is so entrenched that it appeared in the recent bestseller Jungleland and a recent Ancient Origins article on the speech given by the Honduran preseident.
The Monkey God legend was more or less made up in 1939 by some American adventurers and then folded into the Ciudad Blanca myth. The legend proved popular enough that in 1960 Honduras named a preserve after Ciudad Blanca and has had a low level endorsement of the myth ever since. Now, a modern story concocted from vague references to real ruins, a rubber-tapper’s almost certainly fictitious story, and a bunch of modern fabrication is being hailed as the next frontier for Honduras.
This seems to be part of a trend in governments embracing historical fictions for modern gain. Turkey’s controversial president, you will recall, embraced a twentieth century Islamic fantasy that willfully misread Columbus’ poetic description of a Cuban hill as looking “like” a mosque as proof that Muslims discovered America first. He even provided money to build a mosque in honor of the imaginary achievement. Similarly, the controversial prime minister of India has embraced fringe history claims about high technology in Vedic India, including airplanes, to glorify Indian scientific prowess.
1/9/2016 12:36:09 pm
Hmm. For some reason I find this more amusing in a cute way than the Turkey thing that annoyed me to no end. So I might be drifting into fringe-overload mode.
1/9/2016 01:43:00 pm
" in honor of the nation’s literacy program", boy, isn't that ironic? The President or Prime Minister, or whatever he is, of Indonesia has also embraced fringe "history" claims.
1/9/2016 01:45:54 pm
If it gets archeaological sites protected, it's worth it.
Duke of URL
1/10/2016 10:20:36 am
1/9/2016 01:59:20 pm
Not really about history, and pretty tame compared to Vedic airplanes, but Hillary Clinton's recent comments about aliens ("I think we may have been [visited already]. We don't know for sure.") sort of belong in this category.
1/9/2016 04:08:58 pm
That the Whites are a superior race is not a myth but a fact.
1/9/2016 04:10:26 pm
And if that was a "racist" statement - good !!
Birds of a Feather
1/9/2016 04:31:38 pm
Do your goosestepping elsewhere, Himmler.
1/9/2016 04:49:32 pm
That's right - the Africans and the South Americans and North Americans invaded Europe and introduced civilization.
1/9/2016 06:21:28 pm
Ah yes, the Europeans who built the giant Inca and Aztec cities. The Europeans who introduced the complex tribal societies of North America. Those objectively superior Europeans; who unlike the primitive South Americans never believed in a divinely chosen monarch, were never obsessed with ostentatious displays of wealth, and who definitely believed in silly, archaic pantheons of deities. Oh... Wait...
1/9/2016 06:57:42 pm
It's not "Racism" -- it's anthropology.
1/9/2016 08:15:01 pm
Actually, let's speak of archaeology. This is important, as current consensus among archaeologists recognizes six sites as the beginning of civilization: Mesopotamia, the Nile River, the Indus River, the Yellow River, the Central Andes, and Mesoamerica.
1/9/2016 08:23:23 pm
I'm not sure you want to hold up Europe's golden age of execution for heresy as a shining exemplar of cultural superiority.
1/9/2016 08:26:41 pm
Funny thing, nobody accused EvD of being "racist" until recently, and EvD has been in circulation since 1969 - that's 46 years. Ronald Story (amongst others) devoted books to debunking EvD from the 1970s onwards - and not once was EvD accused of being a "racist" once in any of those books.
1/9/2016 08:36:15 pm
Anthropology is not to be confused with racism,
1/9/2016 09:41:02 pm
No matter how hard you try, EvD made racist statements and nothing can change that.
1/9/2016 11:49:16 pm
That would be easier to accept as factual if there were any such thing as "race." "Race" is a social construct that changes meaning on the basis of political climate change. It doesn't even line up properly with "ethnicity."
1/10/2016 02:51:17 am
1/10/2016 02:55:36 am
1/10/2016 03:09:26 am
Definitions of Racism:
1/10/2016 03:32:57 am
Only pathetically weak people that don't have the balls to say what they feel and mean are politically correct pussies.
1/10/2016 10:18:50 am
No, it is *you* who keeps referencing historians, as you are incapable of making supporting arguments for your own claims. No one here cares about France's government, except you, so stay on topic.
fake monkey god
1/11/2016 06:35:13 pm
"Its anthropology" LOL maybe anthropology 100 years ago. Anthropology has come a long way since then and yes that means anthropologists all agree one ethnicity or "race" is NOT better than another.
1/9/2016 05:28:41 pm
Troll level: novice
1/9/2016 11:50:14 pm
Troll level: brick to the face, F----- for subtlety. Needs to be returned for further schooling.
Birds of a Feather
1/11/2016 05:56:28 pm
I have to ask, Time Machine, what are you getting out of rambling in Jason's comment section? The only person who has acknowledged you was Scott Reaney, hardly a ringing endorsement, that. From all the contradictory diatribes you've engaged in, I have yet to really understand what your worldview is beyond a certain obsession with Freemasonry in a very specific time and place. Instead of polluting us with constant off-topic dribble, why don't you make your own site so we can go there for laughs and then come back here for serious discussion?
1/9/2016 05:07:22 pm
It's a well known fact that government leaders do not have to be rational to be in charge. Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter saw UFOs and Nancy R. had a White House astrologer. And obviously none of them would ever have been elected or otherwise attained power if they didn't at least claim to believe in the invisible man in the sky.
1/11/2016 11:34:12 am
To be fair, Jimmy Carter reported seeing a ufo - not an alien spacecraft and he does not dispute the identification later given for it.
1/3/2017 07:56:34 pm
Even if most (not all) of the rationale behind astrology is preposterous, (and it is), those who use it to guide their lives find it quite effective. If you figure why that could be, you might actually learn something. And it is unlikely that civilization could have developed without the discovery of astrology.
1/9/2016 09:15:00 pm
On a genetic level, race doesn't exist. We are all Homo sapiens. There is also the fact that hominids first evolve in Africa. We are all descended from those first Aftican hominids. That is paleoanthropology.
1/9/2016 11:52:37 pm
Race is simply a social construct that changes with the blowing of political winds, and has no more actual validity than what hand one holds one's fork in when one eats does. If one uses a fork at all. Unfortunately, it is one of the most pervasive examples of "peer pressure" at work that can be located, and in a remarkably unpleasant and bullying level.
1/10/2016 03:13:42 am
1/10/2016 03:16:01 am
BTW, my statement above was to do with "race" and not "racism", the old-fashioned pre-Political Correctness version of anthropology.
1/10/2016 12:17:24 pm
"Old fashioned, pre-political correctness version of anthropology"
1/10/2016 05:30:48 am
Darn this oversensitivity and political correctness.
1/10/2016 06:42:45 am
Political Correctness is a malignant cancer that has taken over the world, affecting every branch of society - it is the erosion of basic common sense,
1/10/2016 06:47:13 am
There is only a sliver of a difference between the word "culture" and "race".
1/10/2016 06:55:44 am
And the word inferiority was used in a non-pejorative and non-racially discriminating way --- in the way understood by common sense anthropologists of the past before the advent of political correctness.
1/10/2016 09:36:28 am
I'm sure you can.
Fake monkey god
1/11/2016 06:41:46 pm
Wrong. Dude, you need to read an actual anthropology book. Anthropologists do not refer to ANY "race" or "culture" as inferior. If they did, theyd be out of a job as theyd be shitty anthropologists. Ever heard of the term"ethnocentric" ? its a term anthropologists would use to describe you. Anthropologists might refer to a cultures technological complexity as more advanced or complex, but thats it.
1/10/2016 11:04:30 am
Ignoring Captain Nazi above.
Duke of URL
1/10/2016 11:51:25 am
Hernández visited the site of the lost White City of the Monkey God...
1/10/2016 12:44:53 pm
Well, technically, they haven't actually found a city yet, only a suspected site that hasn't been excavated.
An Over-Educated Grunt
1/11/2016 11:57:00 am
The Monkey-God in the White City... about Hanuman wandering the Chicago Columbian Exhibition.
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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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