Published January 21, 2015
A team of archaeologists have discovered evidence of a lost city deep in the jungles of Honduras, unearthing a half-human, half-jaguar spirit statue, a pyramid, and a plaza in the La Mosquitia valley region.
Long thought to simply be a myth, the so-called “City of the Monkey God” was spotted during an aerial survey in 2012. A deep forest laser probe on the ground backed up the initial discovery by revealing potential ruin sites. An expedition sent to the region says that based on how the animals in the area acted as if they had never seen people before, it’s likely the lost city has been abandoned for at least 600 years.
A pair of documentary filmmakers, Bill Benenson and Steve Elkins, have spearheaded the expedition. The pair flew by helicopter into the remote Honduran jungle in the hopes of locating the city, using infrared Lidar imaging to cut through the thick forest canopy and reveal what the forest has been occluding from sight. Once arriving on sight, the filmmakers and the crew of archaeologists that accompanied them found the remains of human habitation that included houses, paved roads and fields used for the cultivation of crops. More than 50 artifacts such as carved stone sculptures bearing designs of vultures and snakes were located as well.
However, the most noteworthy artifact has been termed the “were-jaguar” statue by archaeologists, a half-human hybrid that could be representative of a shaman in the middle of a spiritual transformation or possession by a sacred jaguar spirit.
Researchers estimate that the lost city was likely inhabited sometime between 1000 AD and 1400 AD.The people that lived there might have borne a passing resemblance to the Maya, as the civilization would have been a close neighbor. However, the jury is still out on who the people who inhabited the city were – to the point where archaeologists haven’t even been able to co come up with a name for them.
As to why the city was abandoned, that’s also a mystery as well. Chris Fisher, the team’s lead archaeologist from Colorado State University, says that the population center could have been wiped out by contact with European disease vectors, but there’s no smoking gun.