Finding the lost city
Does the Amazon jungle conceal a vanished empire?
By David Grann
For nearly 500 years, explorers have hunted in vain for a lost city—now with Google Earth, it may have been found
By Ed Caesar
Grann notes that in 1753 a Portuguese bandeirante—a soldier of fortune—emerged from the Amazon jungle and described how, “after a long and troublesome peregrination, incited by the insatiable greed of gold,” he had seen the ruins of an ancient city from a mountain top. The man walked into the city, discovering “stone arches, a statue, wide roads and a temple with hieroglyphics.” The bandeirante wrote: “The ruins well showed the size and grandeur which must have been there and how populous and opulent it had been in the age in which it flourished.”
Dispatch #15: The Decimation of the Amazon Indians
By Alex Shoumatoff
Q&A with David Grann, author of The Lost City of Z
By Mark Medley
The fascination with lost cities seems eternal. I suspect that part of it, like the earlier searches for mythical kingdoms, such as Prester John, reflects a longing to find some place that is better or richer or more fabulous than the one we inhabit. In 1928, after tens of thousands of people volunteered to search for Fawcett and his missing party, an American newspaper marveled, "Perhaps if there were a sufficient number of jungles available and enough expeditions to go round, we would see the spectacle of our whole population marching off in search of lost explorers, ancient civilizations, and something which it vaguely felt was missing in its life." I also think there is a deep curiosity about how real civilizations, such as the Incas or Mayans, once flourished and eventually died out. Some of this interest is practical: What did these people accomplish that might help us navigate our way? And some of the fascination is simply wonder at how others lived in different places and ages.
The common theme is that Indians used to be smart and civilized, but now they're stupid and savage. A related belief is that they couldn't have been that intelligent so they must've had the help of "ancient astronauts."
For more on the Amazon Indians' reality, see Amazon Indians Weren't Savages and Amazon Towns Disprove Stereotypes.