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Lost 'gold city' may be hiding in Honduras rain forest

May 16, 2013 13:54 IST

Gold barsArchaeologists have discovered ruins of an ancient civilisation that may belong to the lost golden city of Ciudad Blanca -- a never-confirmed legendary metropolis -- hidden in the Honduran rain forests.

Archaeologists and filmmakers Steven Elkins and Bill Benenson announced last year that they had discovered possible ruins in Honduras' Mosquitia region using lidar, or light detection and ranging.

In the process, slow-flying planes send constant laser pulses groundward as they pass over the rain forest, imaging the topography below the thick forest canopy, LiveScience reported.

The archaeologists in new images found features that could be ancient ruins, including canals, roads, building foundations and terraced agricultural land.

The University of Houston archaeologists who led the expedition revealed their new images at the American Geophysical Union Meeting of the Americas in Cancun.

Ciudad Blanca, or ‘The White City,’ has been a legend since the days of the conquistadors, who believed the Mosquitia rain forests hid a metropolis full of gold and searched for it in the 1500s.

Throughout the 1900s, archaeologists documented mounds and other signs of ancient civilisation in the Mosquitias region, but the shining golden city of legend has yet to make an appearance.

Whether or not the lidar-wielding archaeologists have discovered the same city the conquistadors were looking for is up for debate, but the images suggest some signs of an ancient lost civilisation.

"We use lidar to pinpoint where human structures are by looking for linear shapes and rectangles. Nature doesn't work in straight lines," Colorado State University research Stephen Leisz, who uses lidar in Mexico, said.

The archaeologists will now investigate the mysterious features seen in the new images.

Photograph: Heinz-Peter Bader/Reuters

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