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An Expedition Is Digging Up a Lost Civilization In Honduras

Excavation works began on a remote area of the Honduran jungle where a group or achaeologists claim to have found the remains of a lost civilization
January 12, 2016, 5:38pm
Photo par Rodrigo Abd/AP

The legend of the mysterious White City began in the 16th century as the Spanish conquerors explored the jungles of the Caribbean Coast of what would later become modern day Honduras. The city was said to boast vast riches, white buildings, and a giant statue of a monkey god.

Last year a team of investigators claimed to have found a lost city from an unnamed civilization. The expedition to unearth it has now begun.

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"A group of archeologists and scientists is now travelling to the White City in order to prepare the upcoming excavations of the first pieces," Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández told reporters last week.

An aerial survey of the remote valley in La Mosquitia, a tropical region located in the easternmost part of Honduras, first identified the site of the ruins in May 2012. Lack of economic resources have kept La Mosquitia as one of the few remaining largely archaeologically unexplored places on earth.

A ground-level expedition in March 2015 led archeologists to announce in National Geographic that they "had surveyed and mapped extensive plazas, earthworks, mounds, and an earthen pyramid belonging to a culture that thrived a thousand years ago, and then vanished."

Members of that expedition said they were astonished by the "incredibly weird" state of the ruins, which seemed almost untouched. The group decided not to disclose the exact location of the ruins in order to protect them from looting.

The researchers explained in various reports that they believe La Mosquitia does not contain a single "lost White City," as the legends describe. Rather, they believe there are many lost cities.

This discovery has been touted as groundbreaking as the ruins do not appear to belong to any of the named civilizations known in the region, such as Mayan or Aztec. So far they've found 52 artifacts at the site, with many more evident below the ground. A team of experts estimated the artifacts dated between A.D 1000-1400.

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"We started something we need to finish," Dr. Chris Fisher, one of the lead investigators on the past and current expeditions, told VICE News as he was getting on a helicopter to head for the ruins. He said he planned to spend a month at the excavation which is led by the Honduran authorities.

"There is no White City, it's a legend. But what we've discovered is a virtually untouched city in the middle of the jungle. It is a cultural and ecological gem; a global patrimony."

Fisher praised the Honduran government for devoting "significant resources" to "understanding and protecting this momentous discovery" before cutting the conversation short. "I've really got to go. They're calling me into the helicopter now."

Related: Excavations Uncover Details About the Aztec Town Where Spaniards Were Sacrificed

Follow Nathaniel Janowitz on Twitter: @ngjanowitz