Our dear friends and colleagues Bill and Laurie Benenson, acclaimed filmmakers who produced “Dirt! The Movie” and “The Hadza: Last of the First,” have helped discover a fabled lost Pre-Columbian city in Honduras, as reported by Douglas Preston this week in National Geographic Magazine Online.
The project turned on the novel use of Lidar (laser radar) that was able to survey otherwise impenetrable jungle and reveal what appeared to be an entire lost city of a pre-Columbian civilization—the City of the Monkey God.
Bill and Laurie decided to take on the Lidar project and make a movie of this pathfinding fly-over and subsequent expedition that have now forever changed the toolbox and reach of archeology.
Rainforest without Human Beings for 400 Years
As the Nat Geo article describes, Bill and Laurie just returned from a successful “ground-truthing” expedition that validated the Lidar find.
Along with our old friend and colleague Amazonian ethnobotanist Mark Plotkin, Bill and the team described the terrain as essentially absent of human beings for over 400 years—an astonishing experience where the animals had never seen a person in this pristine virgin rainforest.
Supported by the Honduran government, the nation is reaching out worldwide to help protect the site from looters, but also from a far worse threat: ongoing deforestation in service of raising hamburgers by clearcutting the Garden of Eden.
For more the tensions between preservation and development in the rainforest, check out this keynote speech from Marina Silva, the legendary Brazilian defender of the Amazon rainforest and its peoples.