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Has the lost 'White City of gold' been found at last?

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May 15th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Ciudad Blanca, or the "White City," according to legend, was full of gold and had been sought out by explorers and treasure hunters ever since conquistador Hernando Cortes first made reference to it in a 1526 letter to King Charles V of Spain. To date, no confirmation of the existence of the city has ever been provided. Researchers now believe they may finally have found the fabled city in Honduras using high-tech scanners that let aircraft "see" through dense forest.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Books have cited the city as the birthplace of the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl. Previous reported sightings over the years have described golden idols and elaborately carved white stones, which led to the lost city's name.

Researchers from the University of Houston and the National Center for Airborne Laser Mapping have flown over the Mosquitia region in a small plane shooting billions of laser pulses at the ground to create a 3D digital map of the topology beneath the jungle canopy.

Analysts revealed what appears to be man-made elevation changes to reveal what they say is a forgotten city plaza dotted with pyramids reclaimed by the jungle.

Cinematographer and Ciudad Blanca enthusiast Steven Elkins sought backing from private investors to pay for the team at NCLAM to use their laser mapping technology to chart the forest floor of Mosquitia. Engineers flew over 60 square miles of forest in their dual-engine Cessna planes over the course of a week.

LiDAR's computer-generated images have allowed researchers to "see" through the forest canopy to the ground surface, revealing any evidence of ancient settlements or human-engineered landscapes.

"The LiDAR point cloud data clearly show the remains of large settlements that can be characterized as ancient cities based on their spatial complexity, size and organization,' Colorado State University professors Christopher Fisher says.

"We may never be able to tell whether any of these are Ciudad Blanca, or whether the legendary city ever existed, but we can clearly see in the UTL data evidence that there was a densely settled region with a human modified environment.

"These conclusions provide important new insights into the pre-Hispanic settlement of this largely unexplored region."

If confirmed, the discovery of Ciudad Blanca would be comparable to the popularization of forgotten sites such as Machu Picchu, which lay ruined for hundreds of years until reintroduced to western eyes in 1911 by American historian Hiram Bingham.

However - if the myth remains a myth, any positive identification of the fabled "White City" of Ciudad Blanca would reignite hopes of finding the legendary "Lost City of Gold," El Dorado. Archaeologists will now have to undertake a journey through the dense forest to visit the site in person.

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