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Public Lecture Series with Steve Elkins "Lost City of the Monkey God"

The Lost City of the Monkey God: Legends, Discoveries, Consequences, and Legacy

Since 1526, when the conquistador, Hernan Cortes first wrote about the legends of a hidden civilization in the rainforest of what is now known as the Mosquitia in eastern Honduras, explorers have been trying to find it. The place had many names over time but the two most common are Ciudad Blanca and Lost City of the Monkey God.

Up until 2012 when Elkins and his team used airborne LIDAR to survey specific target areas determined by his previous research, explorers only returned with scattered evidence, if any… and that is if they returned at all! The Mosquitia is one of the most difficult jungles in the world to navigate with its rugged terrain and 50 meter triple canopy.

The LIDAR mission which was followed by an initial ground truthing expedition in 2105 succeeded beyond all expectations and started a cascade of events which have greatly influenced Honduras and its attitude towards its natural and cultural patrimony which is ongoing. Additionally, it proved that LIDAR could be used in very dense jungle as tool for pure discovery (even the LIDAR engineers were dubious at first) and is now a de-facto exploration methodology. It also turned out , in fact, there was once an ancient culture deep in the Mosquitia that , in the words of the chief Honduran Archaeologist, “We essentially know nothing about”!

The almost obsessive focus to pursue the question of, “Does Ciudad Blanca exist or not?” with its trials, tribulations, and risks over many years has absorbed adventurers and the public for generations.

Steve will discuss the importance and attraction of the legend, how he became involved and what it took to make his expeditions and discoveries happen over two decades. He'll be including anecdotes about the logistical and political wrangling required to succeed in a very quixotic mission, while highlighting new methodologies of exploration using the latest remote sensing technologies. Lastly, he'll review the unforeseen consequences of his discovery from a scientific, political, and social context that continue to the present day.

Steve Elkins has worked in television for 30 years as a cinematographer, editor, and producer. While filming in Honduras in 1994, Steve became fascinated with the Honduran Mosquitia and its lost city legends. In 2012, after reading about the advent of airborne LIDAR as a tool for unveiling archaeological ruins, he formed UTL – Under the Lidar with colleagues to explore the Mosquitia jungle using LIDAR which resulted in the discovery of two “lost cities”. Three years later, Steve and his partner organized a multi-disciplinary scientific ground expedition to one of the sites. The results and ongoing work have garnered world media headlines including feature articles in the New Yorker, National Geographic, an episode of National Geographic Explorer, and a New York Times bestseller non-fiction book, “The Lost City of the Monkey God”. He was also honored as one of 100 Leading Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy Magazine.

Date: Monday, May 21

Time: 6:00 pm Reception, 7:00 pm Lecture

Location: Club Headquarters, 46 E 70th Street, New York, NY, 10021

Member Ticket Price: $10

Guest Ticket Price: $25

Student Ticket Price: $5 with a valid student ID at the door

Reservation Notes:

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