CSU prof: Ancient Honduran civilization more compelling than ‘White City’ myths

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<p>Courtesy of <a href="http://news-beta.nationalgeographic.com/2015/03/150302-honduras-lost-city-monkey-god-maya-ancient-archaeology/" target="_blank">National Geographic/Dave Yoder</a></p>
<p>A stream winds through part of an unexplored valley in Mosquitia in eastern Honduras, a region long rumored to contain a legendary “White City,” also called the “City of the Monkey God.”</p>

It sounds like something out of an Indiana Jones movie: A research team discovers the remains of a fabled lost civilization in the depths of the Honduran rain forest.

As reported in National Geographic, the expedition found evidence of human life in a remote area linked to the mythology of the "City of the Monkey God" or "White City."

"Indigenous stories speak of a 'white house' or a 'place of cacao' where Indians took refuge from Spanish conquistadores -- a mystical, Eden-like paradise from which no one ever returned," NatGeo reported.

That myth, though, is challenged by Colorado State University archeologist Christopher Fisher, who was part of the expedition.

“There are a lot of myths and legends about an ancient lost city in this part of Honduras -- and that’s what they are: myths and legends. And the place that we found is probably not [the City of the Monkey God or White City] because I don’t actually believe it existed," Fisher told Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner.

"The myths and legends probably refer to an area that was densely occupied at the time of European contact, including many cities that are yet to be found. ... Some of those have been documented, many of them have not.”

Specialized technology called lidar-- Light Detection and Ranging -- was used to survey the dense foliage of a remote valley near La Mosquitia in 2012 before the researcher set out. A plane flew the lidar instrument over the area, scanning the jungle below with laser light, helping provide information that could identify if any archeological artifacts or structures were present.

Fisher and fellow CSU associate professor Stephen Leisz helped decipher the lidar images, which Leisz describes as a "three-dimensional cloud of points."

Fisher joined the international team of experts, along with a film crew, in the Honduran jungle to uncover the mysterious region.

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