In Brief

City of the Monkey God: have scientists found the lost city?

Archaeologists hunting for an ancient city deep in the Honduran rainforest have made a remarkable discovery

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A team of archaeologists hunting for an ancient city in the Honduran rainforest have discovered the "untouched ruins of a vanished culture", the National Geographic has revealed.

The team of researchers, accompanied by two former SAS soldiers and Honduran troops, discovered a "remarkable cache" of untouched structures, stone sculptures and artefacts which could shed light on the ancient civilisation.

Explorers have been searching for "The White City" or the "City of the Monkey God" deep in the Mosquitia rainforest since the 16th century when Spanish conquistadores arrived in the Americas.

The city's civilisation thrived over a thousand years ago, but has since vanished. Their culture has hardly been studied, and doesn't even have a name.

During an expedition in 1940, the American adventurer Theodore Morde believed that he had discovered the site, but he died before he told anyone where it was. He described a city "where a giant monkey deity was once worshipped and local tribes described myths of half-human, half-simian children."

"It shows that even now, well into the 21st century, there is so much to discover about our world," Christopher Fisher, the lead archaeologist, told the Daily Telegraph.

"The untouched nature of the site is unique and if preserved and properly studied can tell us much about these past people and provide critical data for modern conservation."

The expedition was launched as result of an aerial survey in 2012, which used groundbreaking technology to map the jungle floor, and helped scientists discover vast architectural structures buried underneath the earth.

Nothing has been removed from the site and the location has been kept a secret for fear of looting. "This is clearly the most undisturbed rain forest in Central America," said the expedition’s ethnobotanist, Mark Plotkin. "The importance of this place can't be overestimated."

But the priceless site faces a more immediate threat from nearby deforestation and cattle farming. "To lose this global ecological and cultural patrimony over a fast food burger is a prospect that I am finding it very hard to grapple with," said Fisher.

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