The legend of the thousand year old ‘City of the Monkey God‘ was made famous in the historical circles when explorer Theodore Morde made his journeys in the 1940’s. And, on his return, Morde did talk about a massive statue of the monkey god buried in the ground. Unfortunately, he never divulged more than that on fear that the site would be looted – and after a few years, he committed suicide. Of course, Morde and other historians’ initial foray was inspired by fabled tales of a hidden refuge of the native Americans – which was to said to have imposing white ramparts and paradisiacal scenery. And now, an assorted team of archaeologists have may have successfully explored the mysterious site of the ‘White City‘ in Mosquitia, deep inside the eastern Honduran rain forest.
The ruins of an enchanting city were first spotted aerially in 2012. But the main test came when the researchers had to travel by ground to investigate the mysteriously secluded place in a detailed manner. For this adventurous endeavor, the American and Honduran archaeologists had to be supported by engineers, anthropologists and even former SAS soldiers – with the entire expedition hinging on the back-country survival capacity of the explorers. And, suffice it to say, the logistical arrangement was well worth the time and investment; as the researchers did return with many a valuable artifact in the last week of February.
As for the Mosquitia site itself, the historians were able to survey and map the expansive architectural and city planning ambit – that consisted of plazas, earthworks, mounds, and the ‘piece de resistance’ of an earthen pyramid. From this vast scope, the researchers were able to find a cache of stone sculptures at the base of the pyramid that were most probably used as offerings to gods. But the religious intricacy of these people along with the associated culture of the civilization still remains as elusive as the mystifying ‘City of the Monkey God‘.
To that end, there is no escaping the fact that the renowned Mayan civilization flourished in proximity to the previously undiscovered site. In spite of this locational connection, historians are not sure of the mysterious civilization of Mosquitia – and as such the experts don’t even have a name for it. This perplexing scope is made even more baffling by the pristine conditions of the finds discovered in the site, thus alluding to no disturbance (by robbers) in the past. In that regard, arguably the most interesting find pertained to a half-buried object that can be best defined as ‘half-man and half jaguar’. This so-called ‘were-jaguar’ (see above image) most probably depicted a shaman transforming in his spirit state.
In any case, many of the archaeologists returning from the site (like team member Oscar Neil Cruz) have put forth a hypothesis that lost city and its glorious artifacts date from the period of 11th century AD to 15th century AD. However, the fabled place is still kept a secret by these intrepid explorers – given the risk of looters swarming the ‘pristine’ location on getting wind of the archaeology news.
Source: National Geographic
Image Credits: Dave Yoder (National Geographic)