Heard of the long-lost "White City" or "City of the Monkey God"? A group of experts who entered a Honduran rainforest in search of it emerged last Wednesday saying they have found a lost city—one that's totally untouched, National Geographic reports. As writer Douglas Preston explains, "Archaeologists no longer believe in the existence of ... Ciudad Blanca, as described in the legends" but suspect there are many such cities secreted away in this rainforest, "which taken together represent something far more important—a lost civilization." This find points to that: an unnamed, "scarcely studied" civilization that apparently flourished a thousand years ago and disappeared. Among the exposed remains are an earthen pyramid, mounds, large plazas, sculptures, and ceremonial seats. More may be buried, and a team member dates what was found to AD 1000 to 1400.
"The undisturbed context is unique," archaeologist Christopher Fisher tells National Geographic, which explains the found objects, many poking through the earth, have not been excavated. The hunt for the White City—the first recorded mention of which may lie in a 1526 letter from Hernán Cortés to Spain's Charles V—allegedly made headway in 1940 when explorer Theodore Morde emerged from the Mosquitia rainforest with a huge cache of apparent White City artifacts, but he killed himself before divulging the location. Documentary filmmakers spotted the current Mosquitia location (which remains secret) in 2012 by scanning a Honduran valley with a plane-mounted lidar scanner, reported a previous New Yorker article also by Preston. (Archaeologists recently made a grisly find under a Paris supermarket.)