Lost City of Gold: Did Lasers Help Discover Ciudad Blanca?

By iScienceTimes Staff on May 16, 2013 12:43 PM EDT

Gold bars
High-tech mapping technology called lidar may have uncovered to discovered the legendary lost city of gold, Ciudad Blanca, in Honduras. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Scientists and filmmakers have used high-tech mapping technology to discover what they say may be Ciudad Blanca, the lost city of gold.

Archaeologists and filmmakers Steven Elkins and Bill Benenson made the discovery while taking images of the Mosquitia region of Honduras, a 32,000 square mile rainforest area that has only been partially explored. The method they used, light detection and ranging technology, or lidar, involves hovering over an area with slow-flying planes which constantly send lasers downward. The lasers, which are able to shoot through the forest canopy, provide scientists with data that is inputted into 3D imaging software, which then creates a topographical map of the area.  

Like Us on Facebook

The elevation maps that Elkins and Benenson created show a number of buildings and ruins that could be remnants of the legendary city of Ciudad Blanca, or the White City. They believe the objects they've mapped are canals, roads and foundations of buildings.

The legend of Ciudad Blanca has been around since at least the 1500s, when Hernan Cortez, the Spanish conquistador, told King Charles V tales of Xucutaco, a province that "must exceed Mexico in riches and equal it in the great size of the towns, the multitude of people and the government thereof." Explorers and gold-seekers have searched for the lost city ever since, but the hellish inaccessibility of the Honduran rain forest has made physical exploration of the terrain extraordinarily difficult.

None of that is an issue, of course, when you're high above the canopy in an airplane.

A year ago, when the team mapped about 60 square miles of the Mosquitia rain forest, they sent the data to Bill Carter, an engineer who works with the National Science Foundation's National Center for Airborne Laser Mapping. Carter was able to identify the ruins after just a few minutes.

"It was kind of surprising how easy it was to find them," Carter told The New Yorker.

Researchers then spent several more months mapping hundreds of ruins in the area, finally presenting their findings yesterday at a conference in Cancun, Mexico.

Steven Elkins, 62, one of the men behind the project, first travelled to the Honduran region in the 1990s in an effort to find the lost city of Ciudad Blanca.

"Some people believe it's a bunch of hooey," said Elkins. "Others believe that where there's smoke there's fire. I became captivated by it, and I decided to wait until technology advanced to produce a better way to find it than walking aimlessly through the jungle. Many years later, that opportunity presented itself."

© 2012 iScience Times All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

Join the Conversation

Sponsored From Around the Web

    ZergNet
Follow iScience Times
us on facebook RSS
 
us on google
 
Most Popular
NASA Satellite LADEE Crashes Into The Moon Friday As Planned
Stem Cell Propagation In Bone Marrow Requires Hydrogen Sulfide
‘Blood Moon’: Lunar Eclipse Wows Viewers In US, South America, And Parts Of Pacific
Zumwalt Destroyer, Most Futuristic Of Navy Ships, Now Ready For Battle [PHOTOS]
Fossils Of Ancient Shark Jaws Tell Scientists A New Evolutionary Tale
INSIDE iScience Times
Do Dolphins Get High? BBC Cameras Catch Dolphins Chewing On Pufferfish Toxins
Do Dolphins Get High? BBC Cameras Catch Dolphins Chewing On Pufferfish Toxins
How Many Ways Can You Tie A Tie?
How Many Ways Can You Tie A Tie?
Ribbon Of Charged Particles At Solar System's Edge Acts Like A Wind Sock For Interstellar Magnetism
Ribbon Of Charged Particles At Solar System's Edge Acts Like A Wind Sock For Interstellar Magnetism
How to Turn Your Tap Water Faucet  Into a Coffee Spout [VIDEO]
How to Turn Your Tap Water Faucet Into a Coffee Spout [VIDEO]
Coolest Science Photos Of 2013: From Blobfish To Two-Headed Shark, Comet ISON To Mars Selfie
Coolest Science Photos Of 2013: From Blobfish To Two-Headed Shark, Comet ISON To Mars Selfie
Research Shows Cats Are Rude; Can Recognize Their Owners Voice But Choose Not To Respond
Research Shows Cats Are Rude; Can Recognize Their Owners Voice But Choose Not To Respond