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Title: Fawcett,Percy 1925
Description: Mato Grosso region Brazil

monkalup - July 26, 2006 05:42 PM (GMT)

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Percy Fawcett
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Percy Harrison Fawcett

Born 1867
Devon, United Kingdom
Died 1925 (presumed)
Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett (1867 – presumably 1925) was a British archaeologist and explorer who, along with his son, disappeared under unknown circumstances in 1925 during an expedition to find what he believed to be an ancient lost city in the uncharted jungles of Brazil.

Fawcett was born 1867 in Devon, England. In 1886 he received a commission in the Royal Artillery and served in Trincomalee, Ceylon where he also met his wife. Later he worked for the British secret service in North Africa and learned the surveyor's craft. He was also a friend of authors H. Rider Haggard and Arthur Conan Doyle; the latter used his stories as an inspiration for his Lost World.

Fawcett's first expedition to South America was in 1906 when he travelled to Brazil to map a jungle area at the border of Brazil and Bolivia at the behest of the Royal Geographic Society; the society had been commissioned to map the area as a third party, unbiased by local national interests. He arrived in La Paz, Bolivia, in June.

Fawcett made seven expeditions between 1906 and 1924. He mostly got along with the locals with gifts, patience and courteous behaviour. In 1910 Fawcett made a trip to Heath River to find its source. He returned to Britain serve in the army during World War I, but after the war went back to Brazil to study local wildlife and archaeology.

In 1925 Fawcett took his older son Jack with him look to look for a lost city he had named "Z". Fawcett had studied ancient legends and historical records and become convinced that there was a lost city somewhere in the Mato Grosso region. He also left a note that if they did not return, no one should send a rescue expedition to try to find them; they might suffer their fate.

That last sign of Fawcett was on May 29, 1925 when Fawcett telegraphed his wife that he was ready to go into unexplored territory only with Jack and Jack's friend Raleigh Rimmell. They were last reported to be crossing the Upper Xingu, a south-eastern tributary of the Amazon River. Then nothing else was heard of them.

Many presumed that local Indians had killed them, several tribes being posited at the time – the Kalapalos who last saw them, or the Arumás, Suyás, or Chavantes tribes whose territory they were entering. {See Colonel Fawcett link below (reference only)}. Both of the younger men were lame and ill when last seen, and there is no proof they were murdered vs. dying of natural causes in the Brazilian jungle.

Expeditions, explanations and theories
During the following decades, various groups mounted several rescue expeditions without results. They heard only various rumours that could not be verified. In addition to reports that Fawcett had been killed by Indians or wild animals, there was a tale that Fawcett had lost his memory and lived out his life as the chief of a tribe of cannibals.

100 would-be-rescuers have died in more than 13 expeditions sent to uncover Fawcett's fate. A 1951 expedition unearthed bones that were later found to be unconnected to Fawcett or his companions. Kalapalo tribesmen captured a 1996 expedition and released them days later when they gave up all their equipment.

Danish explorer Arne Falk-Rřnne journeyed to the Mato Grosso in the 1960s. In a 1991 book he wrote that he learned Fawcett's fate from Orlando Villas Boas, who had heard it from one of Fawcett's murderers. Apparently, Fawcett and his companions had a mishap on the river and lost most of the gifts they'd brought along for the Indian tribes. Continuing without gifts was a serious breach of protocol; since the expedition members were all more or less seriously ill at the time, the Kalapalo tribe they encountered decided to kill them. The bodies of Jack Fawcett and Raleigh Rimell were thrown into the river; Colonel Fawcett, considered an old man and therefore distinguished, received a proper burial. Falk-Rřnne visited the Kalapalo tribe, and reported that one of the tribesmen confirmed Boas' story about how and why Fawcett had been killed.

In 1951 Orlando Villas Boas supposedly received the actual remaining skeletal bones of Fawcett and had them scientifically analyzed. The analysis allegedly confirmed the bones to be Fawcett's. But his son Brian Fawcett (1906-1984, not to be confounded with the Canadian author of the same name) refused to receive the bones. Brian, according to Villas Boas, was too interested in making money from books about his father's disappearance. As of 1965, the bones supposedly rested in a box in the apartment of one of the Villas Boas brothers in Sao Paulo.

In 1998, English explorer Benedict Allen claimed to have found the actual bones. At the same time, the chief of the Kalapalo-tribe, Vajuvi, supposedly confirmed that the bones found by Villas Boas some 45 years before were not Fawcett's.[1]. Vajuvi also denied that his tribe had a role in the Fawcetts' disappearance. No conclusive evidence supports either tale.

On March 21, 2004, British newspaper The Guardian reported that television director Misha Williams, who had studied Fawcett's private papers, found that Fawcett had not intended to return to Britain, but rather meant to found a commune in the jungle based on theosophical principles.

monkalup - November 14, 2006 02:18 PM (GMT)

monkalup - November 14, 2006 02:21 PM (GMT)

Colonel Percy Fawcett
He charted the wilderness of South America, but then disappeared without a trace.

"Do you know anything about Bolivia?" asked the President of the Royal Geographical Society to Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett early in 1906. The Colonel replied that he didn't and the President went on to explain the tremendous economic potential of South America and also the complete lack of reliable maps. "Look at this area!" he said, pushing a chart in front of Fawcett, "It's full of blank spaces because so little is known of it."

The President went on to explain that the lack of well-defined borders in South America was leading to tension in that region. Much of the area was 'rubber country' where vast forests of rubber trees could be tapped to provide the world's need for rubber and generate revenue for countries like Bolivia and Brazil. The lack of defined borders could lead to war. An expedition to mark the borders could not be led by either a Bolivian or a Brazilian. Only a neutral third party could be trusted with the job and the Royal Geographical Society had been asked to act as a referee.

Now the President of the Society wanted to know if Fawcett was interested in the position. It would be a dangerous job. Disease was rampant there. Some of the native tribes had a reputation for savagery. Without hesitation, though, the Colonel took the job.

Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett was born in 1867 in Devon, England. At the age of nineteen he was given a commission in the Royal Artillery. He served in Ceylon for several years where he met and married his wife. Later he performed secret service work in North Africa. Fawcett found himself bored with Army life and learned the art of surveying, hoping to land a more interesting job. Then in 1906 came the offer from the Society: His ticket to adventure.

The Colonel arrived in La Plaz, Bolivia, in June of 1906 ready to start his expedition. After a disagreement with the government over expenses ,Fawcett started into the heart of the continent to begin the boundary survey. He quickly found that just getting to the area where he was to be working would be an ordeal in itself. The trail lead up a precipitous path to a pass in the mountains at 17,000 feet. It took him and his companions two hours to go four miles and climb 6,000 feet. The pack mules would struggle up the path 30 feet at a time, then stop, gasping for breath in the thin air. The party was afraid that if they overworked the animals, they would die.

Hostile People
Arriving at the town of Cobija, Fawcett quickly got a taste of how difficult life was in the interior of South America. Disease was common and he was told that the death rate in the town was nearly fifty percent a year. Cut off from the outside world, many depressed inhabitants sought comfort by abusing alcohol. One night one of the local army officers became enraged by his subordinate's refusal to join him in a card game. Drunk, the officer drew his sword and went after the man, injuring him. When another soldier tried to assist the injured man the officer turned on him, chasing him around a hut. The fellow sought refuge in Fawcett's room, but the officer followed him inside.

"Where is that dirty so-and-so?" the officer roared. "Where have you hidden him?"

When Fawcett reprimanded the officer for chasing unarmed men with his sword, the officer cursed at the Colonel and drew his revolver. Fawcett grabbed the man's wrist and struggled with him, finally forcing the gun from his hand.

Bolivia was a lawless frontier is those days, much like the American West had been a half century before. Fawcett, in fact, met an American gunslinger named Harvey. The red-bearded, silent man was quick with his revolver and sure with his aim. Harvey, a bandit, had found the United States too civilized and dodged the Texas Rangers, working his way down through Mexico into South America. He had held up a mining company in a neighboring country, and there was a large reward on his head. Boliva had no extradition law, however, and he was safe in this new frontier.

Colonel Fawcett was appalled by treatment of the native South American Indians. Although slavery was illegal, rubber plantation owners would often organize trips into the jungle for the purpose of capturing slaves to be used as rubber collectors. Some of the tribes, in return, became quite hostile toward those of European decent. Fawcett believed that if you treated the Indians with kindness and understanding, you would receive kindness in return. During a trip up the Heath River to find its source in 1910, Fawcett had a unique opportunity to test his theory.

He and his group had been warned off traveling up the Heath because the tribes along it had a reputation for unrestrained savagery. "To venture up into the midst of them is sheer madness," exclaimed an army major. Fawcett went anyway.

After a week paddling up the river, the party rounded a bend and ran straight into an Indian encampment perched on a sandbar. The natives were as surprised as the expedition. "Dogs barked, men shouted, women screamed and reached for their children" Fawcett recalled. The natives hid in the trees while the group grounded their canoes on the sandbar. Arrows whizzed by the men or fell around them. Fawcett tried some peace overtures using native words he had learned, but the message didn't seem to be getting through. Then he had an idea. One of the group was seated just beyond arrow range and was told to play his accordion. The man sang "A Bicycle Made for Two", "Suwannee River", "Onward Christian Soldiers" and other tunes. Finally Fawcett noticed the lyrics had changed to "They've-all-stopped-shooting-at-us." Sure enough, the singer was right. Fawcett approached the natives and greeted them. Gifts were exchanged as a sign of friendship.

Not all contacts with the Indians ended so well. During a trip down the Chocolatal River, the pilot of the boat Fawcett was traveling on went off to inspect a nearby road. When he didn't come back Fawcett found him dead with 42 arrows in his body.

Dangerous Animals
People were only one of the dangers of the jungle. The animal kingdom was another. One night while camped near the Yalu River ,the Colonel was climbing into his sleeping bag when he felt something "hairy and revolting" scuttle up his arm and over his neck. It was a gigantic apazauca spider. It clung to his hand fiercely while Fawcett tried to shake it off. The spider finally dropped to the ground and walked away without attacking. The animal's bite is poisonous and sometimes fatal.

Vampire bats were also a nuisance in some remote areas. At night these creatures would come to bite and lap up blood from sleepers. Fawcett reported that though they slept under mosquito nets, any portion of bodies touching the net or protruding beyond it would be attacked. In the morning they would find their hammocks saturated with blood.

Near Potrero, wild bulls became a problem for one of Fawcett's expeditions. The group was traveling in an ox cart which gave them some protection. Even so, the group was attacked by three bulls one day. They managed to drive them off only after killing one animal and riddling the other two with bullets. On that same trip Fawcett was fifty yards behind the rest of the group when a big red bull appeared between him and the cart. The Colonel wasn't carrying a rifle and there were no trees or other places to seek refuge. Fawcett was able to get past the animal, as it snorted, lashed its tail and tore up the ground, by moving slowly while fixing it with a a hopefully hypnotic stare.

Snakes were also a constant threat too. Once while traveling with a Texan named Ross, they were attacked by a seven-foot long "Bushmaster," a deadly poisonous snake. The men leapt out of the way as the Texan pulled his revolver, putting two slugs through the ugly head of the creature. On close examination Ross realized the snake had bitten him, but the fangs had sunk into his tobacco pouch. His skin showed two dents where the fangs had pressed against him, but never broke through. His skin was wet with venom. The pouch had saved his life.

Fawcett often found it necessary to swim rivers in order to get a rope across for hauling equipment over. The Colonel had to be very careful there were no cuts or open sores on his body that might attract piranha fish. Swarms of these fish have been known to strip the flesh off a man in minutes if he was unlucky enough to fall into the water were they where congregated. One of Fawcett's companions lost two fingers to them while washing his blood stained hands in the river.

Though not poisonous, the giant anaconda is probably the most feared snake in the jungle. Fawcett had a run-in with one not long after he arrived in South America. In his diary he noted: "We were drifting easily along the sluggish current not far below the confluence of the Rio Negro when almost under the bow of the igarit'e [boat] there appeared a triangular head and several feet of undulating body. It was a giant anaconda. I sprang for my rifle as the creature began to make its way up the bank, and hardly waiting to aim, smashed a .44 soft-nosed bullet into its spine, ten feet below the wicked head."

The boat stopped so that the Colonel could examine the body. Despite being fatally wounded, "shivers ran up and down the body like puffs of wind on a mountain tarn." Though they had no measuring device along with them, Fawcett estimated the creature was sixty-two feet in length and 12-inches in diameter.

Indifferent Nature
Colonel Fawcett probably came closest to death during his trips not from human or animal agents but from the geography of the land itself. While traveling down the uncharted Madidi River by raft, his expedition encountered a series of dangerous rapids. With each the speed of the rafts increased until they were rushing down the river uncontrolled. Finally, the river widened and the velocity slowed.

The crews had just given a sigh of relief when they rounded a steep bluff and the roar of a waterfall filled their ears. One of the rafts was able to make it to shore, but Fawcett's was caught in the current. With the water too deep to use a pole to snag the bottom and turn away, the raft shot over the drop.

Fawcett later recounted, "...the raft seemed to poise there for an instant before it fell from under us. Turning over two or three times as it shot through the air, the balsa crashed down into the black depths."

The group survived, but lost much of their equipment. "Looking back we saw what we had come through. The fall was about twenty feet high, and where river dropped the canyon narrowed to a mere ten feet across; through this bottleneck the huge volume of water gushed with terrific force, thundering down into the a welter of brown foam and black-topped rocks. It seemed incredible that we could have survived that maelstrom!"

During a trip to map the Rio Verde River and discover its source, Fawcett came face to face with starvation. The expedition started well: The land around the mouth of the river had plenty of game and the group took what they estimated to be three weeks worth of food with them. Then the expedition was forced to abandon their boats because of rapids, and had to continue up the riverbank on foot.

Because the expedition needed to minimize the weight they would carry, Fawcett decided to bury some of his equipment and 60 gold sovereigns (worth about $300) in metal cases near where they landed. Fawcett was amazed when years later stories came to him about a "Verde Treasure" that had been left behind by his expedition. The story had been retold and embellished so many times that the size of the treasure had been magnified to 60,000 gold sovereigns. The Colonel was particularly amused because the story never mentioned the fact the he had retrieved the cases after the trip was over. He was sure the story would attract future would-be treasure hunters.

As they walked upriver the water, which had been clean, turned bitter and no fish could be found. Then game also seemed to disappear. Soon the supplies they carried were exhausted. For ten more days the group pressed on, despite only having consumed some bad honey and a few bird eggs. Finally, the found the source of the river and charted it (left).

Freed from the responsibility of charting the river, Fawcett tried to figure out the quickest route to somewhere they could get food. Deciding the best chance was to go over the Ricardo Franco Hills, the group tried to work their way up canyons that would lead them to the top.

The hills were flat-topped and mysterious. They looked like giant tables and their forested tops were completely cut off from the jungle below. When Fawcett later told Conan Doyle about these hills, the writer pictured the isolated tops populated with surviving dinosaurs. Doyle used these hills as the location for his famous novel The Lost World.

The expedition quickly found that crossing the hills was futile, and returning the way they had come impossible. Colonel Fawcett instead decided to follow the direction the streams in the region were flowing, hoping that it would get them out. Days passed and no food. One of the expedition's Indian assistants lay down to die, and only the prodding of Fawcett's hunting knife in his ribs got him moving again.

After twenty days without food, the group was at its limit. Fawcett prayed audibly for relief. Then fifteen minutes later a deer appeared 300 yards away. Fawcett unslung his gun. The target was too far away and his hands were shaking, but,in a miracle the Colonel could only attribute to a higher power, the bullet found its mark, killing the deer instantly.

The group consumed every part of the deer: skin, fur and all. The expedition's fortune had turned and within six days they were back in a town with the Verde trip only a bad memory.

For the first three years Fawcett had worked for the Boundary Commission charting the region. When that job came to an end, Fawcett retired from the military and continued exploring on his own, financing the trips with help from newspapers and other businesses. After returning to England to serve in World War I, the Colonel was again drawn back to the South American jungle. As time went on, he became more and more interested in the archaeology of the region. In total he made seven expeditions into wilderness between 1906 and 1924.

The Final Expedition
Finding reliable companions for his trips had always been a problem, but by 1925 his oldest son, Jack, had reached an age where he could join his father in the field.

Fawcett, by examining records and sifting through old stories, had become convinced that there was a large, ancient city concealed in the wilds of Brazil. Fawcett called this city "Z" and planned an expedition that consisted of himself, his son, Jack, and a friend of Jack's. Fawcett had always preferred small expeditions that could live off the land, thinking that a small group would look less like an invasion to the Indians and therefore be less likely to be attacked. The route was carefully planned.

Fawcett, concerned with others, left word that should they not return, a rescue expedition was not to be mounted. He felt that it would be too dangerous.

On May 29th, 1925, a message was sent from Fawcett to his wife, indicating that they were ready to enter unexplored territory. The three were sending back the assistants that had helped them to this point and were ready to go on by themselves. Fawcett told his wife "You need have no fear of failure..." It was the last anyone ever heard of the expedition. They disappeared into the jungle never to be seen again.

Despite Fawcett's wishes, several rescue expeditions tried to find him, but without success. Occasionally there were intriguing reports that he'd been seen, but none of these were ever confirmed.

So what happened to Colonel Fawcett? What danger that he had eluded in the past had gotten him this time? Hostile Indians? A giant anaconda? Piranhas? Disease? Starvation? Or was it, as one tale told, he'd lost his memory and lived out the rest of his life as a chief among a tribe of cannibals?

In 1996 an expedition was put together by René Delmotte and James Lynch look for traces of Fawcett. It didn't get far. Indians stopped the group, threatened their lives, and detained them for some days. They were finally released, but $30,000 worth of equipment was confiscated. Even seventy years after his disappearance, it seems the jungle is still too dangerous a place for anyone to follow in Colonel Percy Fawcett's footsteps.

monkalup - November 14, 2006 02:23 PM (GMT)
Colonel Percy Fawcett

Before we dive into the dangerous and forbidden jungles of South America in search of lost cities, ancient civilizations and secret treasure, it is necessary for you to learn some background.

Percy Fawcett had always been fascinated in archaeology and history. He often took long walks, exploring. In 1893, while a young British officer stationed at Tricomalee, Ceylon, he ventured out on one of his long walks into the remote jungle areas of the island.

That day, a storm overtook him, forcing him to seek refuge for the night under some trees. The following morning, much to his surprise, he discovered a huge rock with strange inscriptions of unknown character and meaning.

He copied the inscriptions and showed them to a Buddhist priest. The priest informed Fawcett that the inscription was a form of old Asoke-Buddhist that only those priests could understand. Ten years later, a Ceylonese Oriental Scholar at Oxford University confirmed the ascertion.

Fawcett now had a keen interest in esoteric history and lost civilizations. During his army career, he led eight (8) South American expeditions under contract with the Bolivian and Brazilian governments to delimit the frontiers that these two countries shared with Peru and Ecuador.

In 1911, at a lecture before the Royal Geographic Society in London, Fawcett described the "lost world" on the borders of Bolivia and Brazil. In attendance was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes and author of a book based on Fawcett's tales, The Lost World: The Adventures of Professor Challenger.

Later, H. Rider Huggard (author of King Solomon's Mines) gave Fawcett a mysterious twelve-inch-long basalt statue. Haggard told Fawcett that he had received the stone idol from the British Consul, O'Sullivan Beare, who in turn had picked it up in a lost city in Brazil in 1913. Based on the inscription, the idol was thought (hoped?) to have an Atlantean origin. Like a good luck charm, in 1925 Colonel Fawcett carried this stone statue with him on his fateful expedition into the Amazon rainforest.

Percy Fawcett was a true believer in the mythological Atlantis. However, he did not believe that the origin of Atlantis could be found in Brazil, but rather Brazil was once a colony of Atlantis. And it was his hope to prove the existence of Atlantis by rediscovering this lost city.

Years later, however, the basalt statue was found to have originated in the Mediterranean region circa 400 BC at Hallicarnassus before Hellenistic times.

IMPORTANT: According to Barry Fell, an authority on deciphering many ancient inscriptions, the statue is an image of a priest of Baal advertising his temple that was dedicated to Hercules (Melgart, son of Baal and Tanitte.) Fell concluded the language was Creole Minoan-Hittite and read: "To ask the Gods for a lucky omen of the future, invoke Melgart and ... bring a propriation for him."

Apparently, during ancient Mediterranean times (where many diverse cultures thrived) it was common for different countries to form alliances and work together for economic or political ventures. Therefore, a combination of languages such as Minoan-Hittite would be used on a statuette left at one of the lost cities.

But how did this ancient statue find its way to a lost city in the Amazon jungle?

This statue (in addition to other ancient Mediterranean artifacts found in the interior of Brazil, such as a Dorian coin, which I will explain later) appears to prove that Brazil was being exploited commercially by Mediterranean traders long before Spanish explorers discovered South Americ!

With this understanding, it is now a probability that ancient mines and trading centers were developed in South America prior to 500 BC by the people of the Mediterranean region, namely Egyptians, Phoenicians, and later Ptolemaic Greeks.

Fawcett pointed out that Solimoes was the native name of the Amazon, which is also the same as Soloman or Solomon, suggesting the ships of King Solomon and King Hiram of Tyre made voyages to South America many years in the past. Rock inscriptions in the Amazon region even resemble Phoenician letters.

Interestingly enough, evidence appears to be mounting that the mines of Ophir (which I will discuss in the next section) may well have been King Solomon's mines - or the Lost Mines of Muribeca?

Lost Cities & Ancient Mysteries of South America
by David Hatcher Childress

monkalup - February 24, 2009 02:53 AM (GMT)
'The Lost City of Z' follows the trail of vanished explorer
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Enlarge By R. de Montet-Guerin

The Lost City of Z tells the story of Col. Percy Fawcett. The British explorer and members of his expedition, including his son, never returned from the 1925 quest to find the legendary El Dorado.


The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon
By David Grann
Doubleday, 277 pp., $27.50

Yahoo! Buzz Digg Newsvine Reddit FacebookWhat's this?By Don Oldenburg, special for USA TODAY
In 1925, Col. Percy Fawcett headed into the Amazon jungle with international fanfare and front-page news coverage intending to make one of the most important discoveries of modern history.
The British explorer's goal was to find what he was convinced lay buried for centuries in the heart of the world's most impenetrable territory: the ancient city that the Conquistadors called El Dorado and that he dubbed simply "Z."

But after weeks of traipsing deeper into the dangerous unknown, Fawcett's missives back to civilization stopped coming. The last of the legendary Victorian explorers never returned. Neither did scores of other adventurers, soldiers of fortune and crackpots who subsequently went looking for him and for the city of Z.

Enter David Grann, an accomplished writer for The New Yorker but an armchair explorer at best. In 2004, Grann stumbled upon Fawcett's story and began researching what he called "the greatest exploration mystery of the 20th century."

FIND MORE STORIES IN: London | New York City | Brazil | Indy | New Yorker | Victorian | Indiana Jones | Boy Scout | El Dorado | Amazonian | Conquistadors
And that wasn't overselling the tale. Grann's The Lost City of Z, his first book, turns that mystery into a smart biographical page-turner whose vivid narrative chronicles Fawcett's extraordinary life and harrowing adventures.

Based partly on Fawcett's private diaries, some of them never before seen outside his family, the book details daring journeys where a horrible death lurked behind every vine.

During earlier expeditions into the "Green hell," Fawcett proved himself to be a rugged, durable and fearless character. Where others died or disappeared, he somehow survived near starvation, bloodthirsty insects, lethal diseases, nightmarish anacondas and razor-toothed piranhas. While others fell victim to hostile indigenous tribes, he befriended them. Others went stark mad; he grew mentally tougher.

Grann reveals Fawcett to be a rigid prototype of Indiana Jones. Indeed, one Indiana Jones novel sends Indy in search of long-lost Fawcett — and he finds him. But that's fiction. No one found Fawcett and lived to tell about it.

Even Grann tries. Besides including fascinating Amazonian science and a cursory backgrounder on the heyday of exploration, Grann interjects his book with chapters detailing his own adventurous research in search of Fawcett's cold trail. Traveling more than 10,000 miles, from New York City to London to Brazil, Grann ultimately makes his way to the same treacherous rivers, dark jungles and tribal villages of the Amazon where Fawcett was last seen.

But while Grann is a terrific researcher and writer, he's a babe-in-the-woods as an explorer. He even confesses a faulty sense of direction and an affinity for air conditioning. His preliminary gear for the Amazon trip would've made a Boy Scout laugh in disbelief. So there is an implication throughout the book that he might become the latest victim of Fawcett's legacy.

The spoiler, of course, is that this book isn't published posthumously. And to his credit, at least by his own account, once in the Amazon, Grann works up his courage, dodges a few dicey moments and survives another day to find some credible clues that cast new light on what probably happened to Fawcett and his lost city.

monkalup - January 8, 2010 06:11 AM (GMT)

Deforestation Unveils Lost Amazon Civilization .By Michael Reilly | Thu Jan 7, 2010 11:38 AM ET . Who would've thought deforestation had an upside?

Satellite flyovers of newly cleared land in the Amazon have uncovered a vanished civilization that could rival the Incans or Aztecs in sophistication.

Researchers found mysterious geometric trenches and other earthworks carved into the landscape as early as a decade ago, but satellites have paved the way for the discovery of over 200 giant structures.

Writing in the journal Antiquity, the researchers say the the formations stretch for some 250 kilometers (155 miles) across the upper Amazon basin east of the Andes mountains and appear to be of a similar style throughout, suggesting one vast, united civilization that could have totaled some 60,000 inhabitants.

Researchers also found stone tools, bits of ceramics, and other artifacts buried in mounds along the trenches. So far, the uncovered areas date to between 200 and 1283 A.D., but the team thinks they've seen "no more than a tenth" of the true extent of this archeological wonder. More from an article which appeared Tuesday in the Guardian:

"These revelations are exploding our perceptions of what the Americas really looked liked before the arrival of Christopher Columbus," said David Grann, author of "The Lost City of Z," a book about an attempt in the 1920s to find signs of Amazonian civilizations. "The discoveries are challenging long-held assumptions about the Amazon as a Hobbesian place where only small primitive tribes could ever have existed, and about the limits the environment placed on the rise of early civilisations."

They are also vindicating, said Grann, Percy Fawcett, the explorer who partly inspired Conan Doyle's book "The Lost World."

Fawcett led an expedition to find the City of Z but the party vanished, bequeathing a mystery.

Many scientists saw the jungle as too harsh to sustain anything but small nomadic tribes. Now it seems the conquistadores who spoke of "cities that glistened in white" were telling the truth.

They, however, probably also introduced the diseases that wiped out the native people, leaving the jungle to claim – and hide – all traces of their civilization.

monkalup - January 8, 2010 06:12 AM (GMT)
another satellite photo

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