Where we attempt to fill you in on everything they forgot to teach you at school

Million Dollar Prize Will Be Used to Search for Lost Ancient Sites Using Satellite Images and Data

There are two types of 'space archaeology'. There's the type that documents space history - from our own fledgling efforts to travel beyond Earth, to searching for remnants of extraterrestrial civilisations - and then there is archaeology on Earth, done from space. The short TED talk above, in which Sarah Parcak outlines how her team used satellite data to find a lost Egyptian city, is on the latter.

Due to its length, the talk is very short on the details of her work, but Parcak's involvement at TED was for a very interesting reason: she was awarded the 2016 TED prize of a million dollars to further her great wish:

I wish for us to discover the millions of unknown archaeological sites across the globe. By building an online citizen science platform and training a 21st century army of global explorers, we'll find and protect the world's hidden heritage, which contains clues to humankind's collective resilience and creativity.

Parcak will use the funds to launch Global Xplorer, a 'crowd-sourcing' science platform, in 2017. Global Xplorer will enable anyone with a web connection "to discover the next hidden tomb or potential looting pit using satellite technology".

You can sign up for updates - and ultimately to become involved as a 'citizen scientist' at the Global Xplorer website. We've seen many stories in recent times about using satellite data to uncover lost ancient structures and cities (see the 'Related stories' links at the bottom of this post), so perhaps a truly paradigm-shifting discovery could be made in the near future by an 'arm-chair archaeologist' using just their computer.

Given the lack of information in the TED talk, to learn more about Sarah Parcak's work you can read read this Wired article from earlier in the year, or alternatively watch the embedded hour-long documentary below on Parcak and the emerging field of space archaeology.

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TED Can Hold a Grudge: New Graham Hancock TEDx Talk Pasted with Disclaimer About 'Counterfactual Assertions'

Disclaimer on TEDx Talk by Graham Hancock

Read more fascinating articles like this one by liking The Daily Grail on Facebook, and by following us on Twitter.

Just over three years ago, TED took the extraordinary step of removing videos of TEDx presentations by 'alternative history researcher' Graham Hancock and 'maverick biologist' Rupert Sheldrake. This move met with a mountain of opposition, as TED seemed to be censoring certain ideas that challenged the orthodox worldview - and they only inflamed the situation further when they offered bogus reasoning for doing so.

This view - that TED was censoring ideas that challenged the current scientific and historical paradigm - only seemed more likely when, just a month later, they removed the licence of TEDxWestHollywood, with a theme named "Brother can you spare a paradigm", just a couple of weeks before the event was scheduled to take place.

Fast forward to 2016, and the more things change, the more they stay the same. A video posted to YouTube of Graham Hancock giving a talk at TEDxReading (in March this year) - titled "Is the house of history built on foundations of sand?" - has been pasted with the annotation seen above across the centre of the screen: "This talk, which was filmed at an independent TEDx event, falls outside TEDx's curatorial guidelines. Read more below."

And here's what the 'read more below' is:

NOTE from TED: Please be aware that this talk contains outdated and counterfactual assertions, and should not be understood as a representation of modern scholarship on ancient civilizations.

If ancient civilizations interest you, TEDx Talks contain many fascinating and well-researched talks such as:

Sarah Parcak's talk on space arachaeology at TEDxYale:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GKzs...

Leslie van Gelder's talk on cave art at TEDxQueenstown:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYGPc...

Sarah Kenderdine's talk on museums of the future at TEDxGateway:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXhtw...

Here's the video for those interested in watching. Happily, the silly placard over the video can be removed rather simply by clicking on the settings button, and turning off 'annotations':

Graham Hancock has responded on his Facebook page to this latest TED controversy, noting his surprise at what has happened, as he had taken great care this time not to provide TED with any ammunition for another video deletion:

I was very careful with this talk. Indeed I did something I've never done before which was to read it to make sure no slip of the tongue, or over-running of the extremely limited time allocated, could be used by TED to delete it from Youtube as they did with my last one.

I don't like reading talks from a carefully pre-prepared script, but having done so in this single case I am quite certain that the ideas I present are NOT "outdated and counter-factual" as TED allege and I challenge them to provide evidence to support this smear.

Hancock says this latest move has solidified the idea to him that "TED is a tool of the dominator society that seeks to keep us all asleep, and that believes itself to be the fount and guardian of all legitimate knowledge".

Graham Hancock's most recent book is Magicians of the Gods, and it is available from Amazon US and Amazon UK.

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Archaeologists Find Elongated Skull of a Woman with Jewel-Encrusted Teeth at Teotihuacan

Elongated skull of the  Lady of Tlailotlacan

Coming soon to Ancient Aliens: archaeologists in Mexico have unearthed a unique 'elongated skull' with ornate custom dental work while excavating at the ancient city of Teotihuacan. The skeletal remains belong to a woman - dubbed 'The Lady of Tlailotlacan' - who was 35 to 40 years old at the time of her death, around 350-400 CE:

Her teeth are of particular note. The central incisors in her upper jaw are embedded with round pyrite stones. This technique required cutting a hole in the enamel of the tooth and inserting the decorative stones. It was practiced in the Mayan cities of southern Mexico (see the jade tooth inserts found in Uxul on the Yucatan peninsula), Guatemala and Belize. One incisor in her lower jaw was replaced with a prosthetic made of serpentine, a green stone carved in the shape of a tooth. This was not of local manufacture and she must have worn it for many years because it shows signs of wear and tartar growth. Researchers are currently studying this tooth looking for evidence of how it was affixed to the jaw, possibly with a cement-like adhesive or some kind of fiber that held it in place.

Her grill isn’t the most extreme of her body mods. The shape of her skull is elongated, an intentional cranial shaping of the tabular erect type produced by fronto-occipital compression likely with a cradleboard when she was a child and her bones were still soft. Hers is an extreme example of the practice. This kind of skull shaping isn’t typical of the Central Highlands. It too is more frequently found in the south.

Her teeth and skull make hers one of the most extensively modified bodies ever discovered at Teotihuacan. It also confirms that the residents of Tlailotlacan weren’t only labourers who were brought to or moved to the big city for work, but people of wealth and status as well. The Lady of Tlailotlacan’s modifications were reserved for the Maya elites.

Below is a video of the skeletal remains:

Link: Woman with stone tooth inserts, long skull found in Teotihuacan

Newly Decoded Text on Antikythera Mechanism Gives New Insights Into the Functions of an 'Ancient Computer'

Antikythera Mechanism (Brett Seymour / WHOI)

The enigmatic 'Antikythera Mechanism' has been back in the news recently, with researchers unveiling the results of a decade-long project to decipher tiny inscriptions on the device. Previous research had largely focused on the mechanics of the 'ancient computer' that was salvaged from a shipwreck in 1901 by sponge divers.

The approximately 2100-year-old clock-like device could be used to calculate the movements of the Sun, Moon and planets, as well as predict eclipses, using a system of gearwheels, with the user able to 'travel' backwards and forwards in time by winding a handle.

In a special issue of the journal Almagest, researchers have broken down the various sections of the mechanism. Firstly, the front:

The bronze plate known as the “Front Cover” of the Antikythera Mechanism had inscriptions on its outside face... The texts give data on synodic cycles for the five planets, and it may be conjectured that lost lines described the behaviour of the Sun and Moon. The data strongly support the idea that planetary motions were displayed on the front face of the Mechanism using simple epicyclic or eccentric models. Previously unattested long and accurate period relations are given for Venus and Saturn, which are favourable for geared representation and probably of Greek, rather than Babylonian, origin.

The dial at the center of the front face of the Antikythera Mechanism was surrounded by two scales, one representing the zodiac, the other the Egyptian calendar year. The Zodiac Scale was inscribed with the names of the zodiacal signs as well as series of index letters in alphabetic order, while the Egyptian Calendar Scale was inscribed with the Greek names of the Egyptian months. In addition, two rectangular plates, the remains of which survived displaced from their original positions, bore an inscription, called the Parapegma Inscription, comprising an alphabetically indexed list of annually repeating astronomical events relating to the Sun and to fixed stars.

The new discoveries about the mechanism were made possible by modern imaging technologies ("computed tomography and polynomial textual mapping") being applied to the tiny engraved text found on it - some of which were barely 1mm in height!

Antikythera Mechanism text

On the back of the mechanism they found dials showing lunar calendars, a 'Games' (i.e. an athletic competition, such as the Olympic Games) calendar, and information about predicting eclipses:

The rear face of the Mechanism consisted of a rectangular "Back Plate" dominated by two large spiral dials. The upper five-turn Metonic Dial represented a 235-lunar-month calendrical cycle while the lower four-turn Saros Dial represented a 223-lunar-month eclipse prediction cycle. A subsidiary quadrant "Games" dial was situated inside the Metonic Dial, and a subsidiary three-sector Exeligmos Dial inside the Saros Dial. Preserved text inscribed around the dials (from the lower right quarter of the plate), probably representing about a quarter of the original inscription, provided further information associated with the predictions of eclipses.

The Metonic Dial inscriptions imply a calendrical scheme similar to that described by Geminos. It was intended to be a version of the calendar of Corinth as it was practiced either at Corinth itself or in some locality of Epirus. The Games dial shows six competitions, four Panhellenic (Olympics, Pythian, Isthmian, and Nemean) plus Naa (Dodona) and very probably Halieia (Rhodes).

On the Saros dial there were probably originally about 50 or 51 month cells with a lunar and/or solar eclipse prediction, each carrying a "glyph" and an index letter. Predicted eclipse times (in equinoctial hours) on the glyphs were calculated as times of true syzygy according to solar and lunar models that both involved anomaly, with the simple Exeligmos dial extending the predictions over three or more Saros cycles.

The additional information referred to by index letters from the Saros dial was grouped into paragraphs; that for lunar eclipse prediction probably ran down one side of the plate, and that for solar eclipse prediction down the other. Statements about direction may imply a meteorological aspect by referring to predictions of winds attending the eclipses. Five references to colour and size at eclipse are the only Greco-Roman source known to us that suggests prediction of eclipse colors, and might conceivably be linked with astrology.

The press have run with this 'astrology' attribution, but it's just a small part of what this research has uncovered, and even then I think it's still just a 'possibility' (note the wording above, "might conceivably").

The researchers also translated text that was inscribed on a plate - possibly a protective cover - that was found lying against the rear face of the Antikythera Mechanism in situ on the shipwreck. Only small fragments remain of this plate, but some of the text was, amazingly, preserved "as offsets on a layer of accreted matter that built up against it". It was found that the text on this plate provided "a systematic description of the dials, pointers, and other external features of the Mechanism, beginning with the front face and continuing with the rear face."

The best preserved passages include descriptions of features on lost parts of the Mechanism: a display of pointers bearing small spheres representing the Sun and planets on the front dial, and a dial on the upper back face representing a 76-year "Kallippic" calendrical cycle.

Lastly, the research team was able to use the 'data' that drove the device to guess at the likely location of the person who compiled it, finding that it corresponded to observations from a latitude of around 35 degrees - that ruled out Egypt the north of Greece, but matches the island of Rhodes.

It is hoped that ongoing excavation of the shipwreck will uncover more fragments of gears and inscriptions that could shed further light on this amazing contraption.

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Monument Discovered 'Buried in Plain Sight' Near Ancient Citadel of Petra

Petra (Susana Hajer, CCSA licence)

In discussing the possibility of 'lost civilisations', the question is often asked - could evidence of such civilisations lie hidden beneath ground (and water), just out of our gaze? A new discovery shows that this is entirely possible (although the monument in this case is ascribed to an already known civilisation): a recently discovered paper has revealed that an enormous monument has been "hiding in plain sight" just a half a mile from the centre of one of the most important, and busy, archaeological treasures of the world: the World Heritage site of Petra.

The newly revealed structure consists of a 184-by-161-foot (about 56-by-49-meter) platform that encloses a slightly smaller platform originally paved with flagstones. The east side of the interior platform had been lined with a row of columns that once crowned a monumental staircase.

A small 28-by-28-foot (8.5-by-8.5-meter) building was centered north-south atop the interior platform and opened to the east, facing the staircase.

This enormous open platform, topped with a relatively small building and approached by a monumental facade, has no known parallels to any other structure in Petra. It most likely had a public, ceremonial function, which may make it the second largest elevated, dedicated display area yet known in Petra after the Monastery.

Archaeologists used high-resolution satellite imagery, aerial drone photography, and subsequent ground surveys to locate and explore the structure.

Paper: "Hiding in Plain Sight: The Discovery of a New Monumental Structure at Petra, Jordan, Using WorldView-1 and WorldView-2 Satellite Imagery"

How Long Would It Take for Evidence of Our Civilisation to Disappear?

In discussing the possibility of lost civilisations, the question is often asked: if there was an advanced civilisation in antiquity - say, more than 10,000 years ago - how much evidence would actually be left for us to find? The above video covers this in asking the question, what would happen if humans disappeared from the planet:

After 10,000 years, the only reminiscence that people were here someday, will be the remains of a few stone constructions, among which [would be] the pyramids in Egypt and the Great Wall of China. Mount Rushmore National Memorial will be there almost intact for several hundreds of thousands of years.

(via Gizmodo)

King Tut Was Buried With a Dagger of "Extraterrestrial Origin"

King Tut's Space Dagger

In 1922, Howard Carter stunned the world with his discovery of the 'lost tomb' of the Egyptian King Tutankhamun (18th dynasty, 14th C. BCE), still intact with its treasures (and body of the now-famous boy-king) having remained safe from looters over the millennia. Three years into his investigation of the contents of the tomb, Carter found two daggers within the wrapping of Tut's mummy: one on the right thigh, with a blade of iron, and another on the abdomen - this one with a blade of gold.

While for most people the latter might seem the more interesting, it is the dagger with the blade of iron that has been of more interest to archaeologists. In ancient Egypt, minerals such as copper, bronze, and gold were used extensively from the 4th millennium BCE, but - despite the significant amounts of iron ore in the area - iron was very rarely used until the 1st millennium BCE. As such, there has long been a debate as to whether the dagger found on Tut's thigh might have been made out of meteoritic iron, which was highly venerated by the ancient Egyptians.

The dagger, pictured above, is certainly a thing of beauty. At 34.2cm (roughly 14 inches) long, it has a finely manufactured, non-rusted blade of iron, and a handle largely made of fine gold with a rounded knob of rock crystal at the end. Additionally, it was protected by a gold sheath decorated with a floral lily motif on one side and with a feathers pattern on the other side, terminating with a jackal’s head.

But is it from space? Scientists set out to answer that question in a recent study, which has just been published in the journal Meteoritics & Planetary Science under the title "The meteoritic origin of Tutankhamun’s iron dagger blade" Lead author Daniela Comelli and her team of researchers (thankfully) used a non-destructive technique known as X-ray fluorescence (XRF) to determine the composition of the dagger at two different places on the surface of the blade.

Their analysis - carried out at the Egyptian Museum of Cairo - demonstrated that the two buik constituents of the dagger's blade were iron (Fe) and nickel (Ni), with minor concentrations of cobalt (Co). And, importantly, they found that the nickel contributed around 10.8% of the full weight of the blade:

Iron meteorites are mostly made of Fe and Ni, with minor quantities of Co, P, S, and C, and trace amounts of other siderophile and chalcophile elements...The Ni content in the bulk metal of most iron meteorites ranges from 5 wt% to 35 wt%, whereas it never exceeds 4 wt% in historical iron artifacts from terrestrial ores produced before the 19th century.

[Additionally] the Ni/Co ratio in the dagger blade is consistent with that of iron meteorites.

Their conclusion: "The blade’s high Ni content, along with the minor amount of Co and a Ni/Co ratio of ~20, strongly suggests an extraterrestrial origin".

Location of space dagger on King Tut's body

This finding, along with last year's discovery that a 5000-year-old bead from the beginnings of Dynastic Egypt was also made from the remains of a meteorite, reinforce the idea that the ancient Egyptians attributed great value to iron from meteorites.

In this new paper, the researchers do feel that their finding "provides important insight into the use of the term “iron”, quoted in relationship with the sky in Mesopotamian, Hittite, and Egyptian ancient texts":

Beside the hieroglyphic “bja”, which already existed before the XIX dynasty with a broad meaning (as “mineral, metal, iron”), a new composite term “bja n pt”, literally translated as “iron of the sky,” came into use in the 19th dynasty (13th C. BCE) to describe all types of iron. In the same period, we can note a text at Karnak
probably describing a meteorite. The introduction of the new composite term suggests that the ancient Egyptians, in the wake of other ancient people of the Mediterranean area, were aware that these rare chunks of iron fell from the sky already in the 13th C. BCE, anticipating Western culture by more than two millennia.

I mentioned some fascinating details about the ancient Egyptian veneration of meteorites, sourced from researchers Robert Bauval and Adrian Gilbert, in my post about the beads last year, so I won't discuss it again at length here. But at the end of that post is an interesting hypothesis that wasn't explored much further: could the sacred Egyptian 'Ben-Ben stone' (like other omphalos stones) have originally been a conical meteorite? And, while we're speculating: could its shape have ultimately given rise to the shape of the pyramids?

This new research at least adds to the collection of very cool artefacts from space, including the Buddhist iron man (stolen by Nazis no less), and this more modern Japanese meteorite sword.

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Neanderthals Found to Have Built Mysterious 'Stalagmite Circles' 175,000 Years Ago

Stalagmite Circle

In 1990, cavers in the the south west of France entered a cave that had been sealed from the outside world for tens of thousands of years by a natural rockslide. 337 metres within the cave, they made a curious find: a mass of broken off stalagmites which seemed to have been arranged into ring or circle shapes on purpose.

In the 1990s archaeologist Francois Rouzard set out to determine whether the constructions in Bruniquel Cave were made by the hands of Neanderthals, but after his premature death from a heart attack in 1999 research ground to halt. But 14 years later, a multi-national team finally did a proper scientific analysis of the structures - and their conclusions are mind-blowing.

Using uranium-series dating of the stalagmite calcite, the researchers found that the structures were built between 175,000 and 177,000 years ago! Neanderthals are believed to have been the only human population living in Europe at this time, and so the researchers have attributed the constructions to them.

Here's the description of the structures:

The arranged structures composed of whole and broken stalagmites, here designated as ‘speleofacts’, are located in the largest chamber of the cave. Our study defines two categories of structures: two annular ones, which are the most impressive, and four smaller stalagmite accumulation structures. The largest annular structure is 6.7 × 4.5 m, and the smaller one is 2.2 × 2.1 m. The accumulation structures consist of stacks of stalagmites and are from 0.55 m to 2.60 m in diameter. Two of them are located in the centre of the larger annular construction, while the other two are outside of it. Overall, about 400 pieces were used, comprising a total length of 112.4 m and an average weight of 2.2 tons of calcite... The stalagmites are well calibrated with a mean length of 34.4 cm for the large (A) and 29.5 cm for the small (B) annular structures, thus strongly suggesting intentional construction.

The annular structures are composed of one to four superposed layers of aligned stalagmites. Notably, some short elements were placed inside the superposed layers to support them. Other stalagmites were placed vertically against the main structure in the manner of stays, perhaps to reinforce the constructions.

3D Reconstruction of the Stalagmite Circles

Traces of fire were also found to be present on all six of the structures. Carbonized organic material was found, with some of the fragments being the bones of a bear or large herbivore.

The dating of the constructions within Bruniquel Cave is staggering. In terms of megalithic building, Stonehenge dates back around 5000 years; Gobekli Tepe 10,000 years. Completely preserved archaeological sites are rare before 40,000 years ago. And yet here we have a well-preserved site, with signs of intelligent human construction, dating back 175,000 years:

The attribution of the Bruniquel constructions to early Neanderthals is unprecedented in two ways. First, it reveals the appropriation of a deep karst space (including lighting) by a pre-modern human species. Second, it concerns elaborate constructions that have never been reported before, made with hundreds of partially calibrated, broken stalagmites (speleofacts) that appear to have been deliberately moved and placed in their current locations, along with the presence of several intentionally heated zones. Our results therefore suggest that the Neanderthal group responsible for these constructions had a level of social organization that was more complex than previously thought for this hominid species.

For the researchers involved, questions abound. "What was the function of these structures at such a great distance from the cave entrance? Why are most of the fireplaces found on the structures rather than directly on the cave floor? We could assume that they represent some kind of symbolic or ritual behaviour, but could they rather have served for an unknown domestic use or simply as a refuge? Future research will try to answer these questions."

Link: "Early Neanderthal constructions deep in Bruniquel Cave in southwestern France", in Nature

Archaeoastronomy Finds Sappho's Poetry Written In The Stars

Image

Art is timeless, its beauty as immutable as the North Star. Timelessness can also come from people not having a clue when something was created. Knowing the year of its inception is one thing, as historians can guess at the fashions and trends of the artist's era, but creative types, like poets, are also moved by the seasons.

Sappho of Eresos would be no different than our contemporaries. Rivalling Homer in her stature, and celebrated for her lyrical and lucid style, only fragments of her writing survive in the 21st century. Among Sappho's oeuvre is her Midnight Poem:

The moon has set
And the Pleiades;
It is midnight,
The time is going by,
And I sleep alone.

Bringing us to an astronomical analysis of her poem by Manfred Cuntz (ahem) and his associate Levent Gurdemir. Using a program called Starry Night, they were able to estimate the date Sappho wrote her wistful words. Playing around with their programs, the team deduced Sappho put stylus to tablet sometime between January 25th and March 31st in 570 B.C.E.. [1]

Had she meant to convey the time and date by noting the moon and the Pleiades set together, then the moon would've been at its first quarter. [2][3] Poking around with Stellarium, a free, multi-platform planetarium program, I'd gather the date was Tuesday the 1st of February 570 B.C.E..

While a hopeless romantic, Sappho's poem may have been a wish for extra warmth rather than some nudge-nudge wink-wink say-no-more.

  1. Scientists use planetarium's advanced astronomical software to accurately date 2,500 year-old lyric poem - http://phys.org/news/2016-05-scientists-...
  2. The Phases of the Moon - http://www.astro.cornell.edu/academics/c...
  3. Moon Phases - Rising & Setting Times - http://www.wsanford.com/~wsanford/exo/moonrise-set.html

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Has a Lost Maya City Been Found By a 15-Year-Old Based on Ancient Star Maps?

Is this a lost city of the Maya

Almost three decades after Robert Bauval made headlines - and generated plenty of discussion and debate - with his controversial 'Orion Correlation Theory' (the suggestion that pyramids in Egypt were sited in particular locations in order to resemble the stars in the constellation of Orion), a new story is hitting headlines around the world today claiming that a 'lost' Maya city has been located in the Americas, through the matching of star locations to the placement of ancient cities.

What makes the story even more incredible is that the discoverer is a 15-year-old school student! William Gadoury from Quebec was perplexed as to "why the Maya built their cities away from rivers, on marginal lands and in the mountains", and "as they worshipped the stars" wondered if they might have chosen the location of its towns and cities to mirror the imagery of the sky.

He found Mayan cities lined up exactly with stars in the civilization's major constellations. Studying the star map further, he discovered one city was missing from a constellation of three stars.

Using satellite images provided by the Canadian Space Agency and then mapped on to Google Earth, he discovered the city where the third star of the constellation suggested it would be.

The similarities to Bauval's work don't end there. According to a French-language Wikipedia page the constellation that Gadoury identified with the star that had no corresponding city was the Maya version of Orion. "Three of the stars of this constellation form a triangle, are: Alnitak ( Zeta Orionis ), Rigel (Beta Orionis) and Saiph ( saiph )", it notes, with two of those corresponding to the ancient Mayan cities of Calakmul and El Mirador. But the third star did not correspond to any known Maya site, leading him to assume that - if his city/correlation theory was correct - there would be a 'lost' city hiding in that position. And, using high-resolution satellite imagery, courtesy of the Canadian Space Agency, Gadoury claims to have found exactly that.

Others with more substantial credentials have agreed:

Doctor Armand La Rocque, from the University of New Brunswick, said one image showed a street network and a large square which could possibly be a pyramid. He told The Independent: "A square is not natural, it is mostly artificial and can hardly be attributed to natural phenomena. "If we add these together, we have a lot of indication there might be a Mayan city in the area.".

Sounds exciting as hell, and if true is a stunning discovery about the importance of the night sky to ancient people. But let's also stop and breathe a little. The 'discovery' is currently based on seemingly geometric figures spotted on a satellite photograph - nobody has actually visited the area yet to confirm there is actually a lost city there. Furthermore, even if ancient ruins are discovered where Gadoury claims they should be, does it confirm the constellation correlation theory, or is it just a matter of there being so many sites in the Americas that you can 'join the dots' any way you like? (Though personally, that seems a bridge too far given the amount of corresponding sites he has claimed to have found already.)

What seems a little odd is that this isn't actually a new story - Gadoury first got media attention for his theory as a 13-year-old in 2014 and began searching for the 'lost city' later that year. CBC spoke to Daniel De Lisle of the Canadian Space Agency, who noted that the CSA first came into contact with Gadoury at a conference in 2014 - "at that time William won [a science] exposition, and one of the prizes was for him to present his project at this international conference...his booth was right beside ours; we just chit-chatted with him, and realized there was a high potential for him to make an interesting discovery, and we decided to support him":

William did a first project trying to make a correlation between the locations of the stars with the different constellations, and tried to understand how they could identify the various cities - and he made an almost 90% correlation between the fact that the stars locations could pinpoint the cities.

And one of the studies he did, he found a constellation that had no specific location on the ground. So what the space agency did was provide him with a few images over the area of interest...so he could see with the high-resolution imagery that we provided him with to try and locate this hidden or unknown city.

It could be that archaeologists just haven't treated the claim as a genuine one in the intervening time - given both the 'fringe' nature of the theory, and that it is coming from a teenager. But the coverage being given to the story now should guarantee that it gets more serious investigation.

The next logical step would seem to be to get out there and see if those geometric figures truly are a lost city. If it is...game on!

Update: Gizmodo have posted an article on this same topic, and in recent updates have included skeptical comments by archaeologists and anthropologists. One of those is Mesoamerican expert David Stuart, who in a Facebook post labeled the lost city claim as "false":

The whole thing is a mess -- a terrible example of junk science hitting the internet in free-fall. The ancient Maya didn't plot their ancient cities according to constellations. Seeing such patterns is a rorschach process, since sites are everywhere, and so are stars. The square feature that was found on Google Earth is indeed man-made, but it's an old fallow cornfield, or milpa.