The Lost City of Z is the name Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett (above) gave to the ancient city he believed existed somewhere in the Amazon rainforest. Fawcett died while searching for it, and perhaps 100 more have disappeared looking for him.
The Biblioteca Nacional do Rio de Janeiro’s Manuscript 512, a document responsible for numerous archaeological fables, contains a reference to the mysterious city. Portguese explorer João da Silva Guimarães writes that in 1753 he made an amazing discovery. He described symmetrical adjoined buildings and a square with a huge black column in its centre. Atop the column stood a statue of a man wearing a crown of laurels and pointing to the north pole. The location of this find, however, was not included.
In 1925, Fawcett set out from Cuiabá with two horses, eight mules, a pair of dogs and a team of able men. With them, they carried canned foods, powdered milk, guns, flares and a sextant and chronometer for gathering latitude and longitude.
Their last communique was a telegraph from Dead Horse Camp, in which Fawcett described the hardships they had faced to his wife.
Years later, contact was made with the Kalapalo tribe, whose oral legends spoke of a white man who visited them and shared Christian rituals. The Kalapalo people warned the explorers about a violent tribe further into the forest. After five days, they noticed that the explorers no longer made campfires.
The anthropologist Michael Heckenberger believes his recently discovered site Kuhikugu, where as many as 50,000 people may have lived spread over 7,700 square miles, is Fawcett’s Lost City of Z. Of Kuhikugu, he said, “All these settlements were laid out with a complicated plan, with a sense of engineering and mathematics that rivalled anything that was happening in much of Europe at the time.”