The Lost City of Z refers to a supposed indigenous city that English explorer Percy Fawcett believed existed in Brazil.
Fawcett was an esteemed explorer, and completed many complicated and somewhat dangerous expeditions. But it was the Lost City of Z that his main focus was on.
The quest to find the city ultimately ended in Fawcett disappearing – albeit in mysterious circumstances. In this article, we take a look at the case.
What was the Lost City of Z?
It is still unknown to this day as to what exactly the Lost City of Z was. It is known that Fawcett believed it to be an ancient lost city.
Fawcett believed that the city was located in the Mato Grosso state of Brazil. He believed it was in the large jungle area of the state that it was present.
Fawcett’s interest began when he discovered a document that became known as Manifest 512 – which was believed to have been written by Portuguese explorers in the 1700s.
The document was a 10 page description by the explorers of an area which they had discovered. It contained a statue, a temple with hieroglyphs – and signs that it had featured a full community at some point.
The accuracy of the letter has been questioned in more recent times, but Fawcett became obsessed with the city, and hoped to try and find the city – which would be his crowning achievement.
Leading up to the expedition
Fawcett had intended to launch an expedition in the 1910s, but the outbreak of the First World War scuppered this. Facwett returned to the United Kingdom to fight for his country, in the ultimately successful British World War victory.
After the war was over, Fawcett launched an expedition in 1920. However, he was unable to make it very far, having caught a bad fever. He recuperated at home – but started to plan another expedition.
Fawcett set off in 1925 alongside his son Jack and a friend named Raleigh Rimmell, as well as two Brazilian labourers, horses, mules and dogs.
What happened on the expedition is unknown. The Brazilian labourers left the trio behind after a few weeks, before delivering a letter from Fawcett to his wife.
But that letter was the final thing anyone ever heard from Fawcett. As the weeks and then months went by, it was apparent that the trio had become lost. Searches were carried out, but there was no sign of them.
The bodies of the three men were also never found. A range of theories have been put forward to explain the mysterious disappearance of Percy Fawcett. But there has never been an accepted answer.
Theories include death by exhaustion and exposure to the elements, a native tribe killed them, or that they did indeed reach a city, where they stayed to live the rest of their lives.
While the latter theory would be the happy ending – realistically, most assume that the trio ran out of food, water and other supplies, and sadly perished during the expedition.
So did the city ever exist?
Researchers believe that Fawcett may have been trying to find what is now known as Kuhikugu – which is an archaeological site visited by many people around Brazil.
Kuhikugu was believed to have been inhabited hundreds of years ago. But the area was home to twenty towns and villages – which may represent an area that could’ve been considered to be the Lost city of Z.
It is simply unknown as to whether or not Kuhikugu is the Lost city that Fawcett attempted to find or not. It is a shame that Fawcett seemingly never made it to the city.
Of course, it may not have even been Kuhikugu that he was looking for. Sadly, the truth behind this case is unlikely to ever be known.
Manuscript 512, which heavily influenced this case, can still be found at the National Library of Brazil. It is one of the best-known artifacts in the library.
The nature of the Lost City of Z and Percy Fawcett’s tragic disappearance certainly makes for an interesting case. We can only hope that during Fawcett’s doomed voyage, that he was able to make it to the area.
The Lost City of Z has featured heavily in popular culture, with numerous books on the subject being written, as well as being the name of a film that was released in 2016. It has definitely influenced many.
But whatever happened on the trip, Fawcett certainly left behind a strong legacy on the world, having been one of the most famous explorers in recent decades.