Latin America & Caribbean

Honduras starts archaeological dig for ancient city

Aerial shot of the Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The location of the White City lies in the Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve, a vast region of jungle, mountains, swamps and rivers

The President of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernandez, says scientists plan to explore a jungle site where they believe a mysterious ancient city is hidden.

Spanish colonisers searched for it believing "the City of the Monkey God" or "the White City" was filled with fabulous riches.

Over the centuries there have been reports of more sightings.

Then in the last three years ruins and carved stones were found.

In 2012 an American documentary team using mapping technology flew over the site inside the Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve on Honduras's Caribbean coast and discovered what appeared to be the overgrown remains of an ancient civilisation.

National Geographic magazine reported last October that some carved stone artefacts had been found at the site deep in the reserve - a vast region of forests, swamps and rivers.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption President Juan Orlando Hernandez says the White City is an opportunity for the country to built its tourism industry

President Hernandez said the expedition would begin to dig in the next few days to try to discover what lay under the soil at the site.

He said that the coverage of the site in international magazines and in the documentary had given Honduras useful international publicity at a time when the country was seeking to bring in more tourists.

"The rest of the world is talking about us and the White City in tourism terms and we want to put that in the context of the new infrastructure we are building - highways, airports, ports. We need to be ready to take advantage of this great opportunity."

Archaeologists from Honduras and the United States had made a first examination of the site of the White City and had found artefacts, earth works, mounds and an earth pyramid made by an ancient civilization.

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