One can never be too young to discover a forgotten Mayan city.

Such is the feat of a 15-year-old schoolboy from Quebec who claims he has found a long-lost ancient Mayan city deep in the thick forests of Central America.

William Gadoury, who has a curious fascination with the ancient Mayan civilization, applied a clever mix of traditional astronomy and ultra-modern technology to detect where the ruins of the forgotten Mayan city is potentially located.

Reaching For The Stars

William said he did not understand why the Maya developed their cities away from rivers - unlike ancient Egyptians - or on marginal lands and in the mountains.

With this question in mind, the inquisitive teenager analyzed 22 Mayan constellations and the sites of archaic Mayan cities from his own home in Saint-Jean-de-Martha. He compared the location of 117 Mayan cities to the constellations found in the Madrid Codex, a Mayan text dated between 900 and 1521.

He realized that the Mayans aligned their cities with the position of stars, and so he matched each city to star charts made by astronomers. He drew the constellations on to transparent sheets and laid them over maps of Mayan cities.

Surprisingly, the sites adhered to the same patterns. According to Journal de Montreal, this was the first time a researcher made a direct connection between the stars and the locations of Mayan cities.

William also realized that there was one star in another constellation that did not seem to follow the pattern.

One of the three stars in the Orion constellation, which has a central place in the Mayan religion and culture, did not correspond to a city. Two of the stars matched the sites of Calakmul, Mexico and El Mirador, Guatemala respectively. Where was the third?

If William's study is accurate, the missing Mayan City would be located in a remote coastal location in Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula.

Confirming the Theory

William enlisted the help of Google Earth maps and images from the Canadian Space Agency in order to find the correct answer.

Research technician Armand LaRocque helped William source images of the site where the ruin would potentially be. Thanks to the space agency, the duo was able to take hold of images from RadarSat2, a radar satellite blasted off into orbit in 2007.

The boy zeroed in on the exact location of the lost city. What did he find? A pyramid and about 30 ancient buildings, all hidden in the thick forest.

Although the lost city has yet to be explored, William named it K'aak Chi, or Mouth of Fire.

It is believed to theoretically be one of the five biggest Mayan cities ever discovered. And if William's theory is indeed right, LaRocque said there is a possibility that they could discover more cities.

Daniel de Lisle, liaison officer of the Canadian Space Agency, told the Independent that the area where the city was detected had been difficult to study because of the dense vegetation.

But satellite scans saw linear features that stuck out, suggesting that there is something underneath the big canopy, he said.

This finding is the culmination of the past three years of William's study. It will be published in a scientific journal and presented at the International Science fair in Brazil next year.

Skeptics Disagree

Although William's findings are lauded by some experts, skeptics beg to disagree. Anthropology professor Susan Gillespie of the University of Florida dismissed the theory as a symptom of the tendency to make Mayans "exotic."

Gillespie argues that the Mayans did not place their cities based on stars but on ecological conditions. Tikal in Guatemala, the greatest city of all, would be placed near swamps or bajos, she said. This would be great for canoe trade during the rainy season.

The city is also located near a great source of flint, she said, which Mayans used to create tools. If there was indeed a city in the location that William specified, it would be a mere coincidence. She said that given the 3,000 years of Mayan history, they would probably fill up everywhere.

"If there is a blank space on the map there may be a city there," she added.

ⓒ 2021 All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.