Background info: In 1925 Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett, his son Jack Fawcett and Raleigh Rimmell entered the Amazon jungle to search for a Lost City that for some reason he strangely named Z. It was to be his ninth and final expedition as they were never seen or heard of again.
It seems he based much of his belief of a Lost City on an old document he found in the library archives at Rio de Janeiro in 1920. Labelled Manuscript 512, it arrived in Rio de Janeiro in 1754 and is about a Portuguese expedition into the Amazon interior in 1743.
First Page of the Original Brazillian Manuscript 512
Having already become intrigued with the rumours local indians had told him about a lost city in the uncharted areas of the jungle, the information he read in the old document no doubt convinced him they were true.
Although Fawcett had great admiration for the Amazonian Indians and repeatedly refused to use force against them, even when attacked himself, he was not immune to the endemic racism of his time. He did not believe that the native Indians themselves had created this great city, but no doubt some lost European tribe, the Phoenicians or the Lost Tribes of Israel, had built the city before intermarrying with the Indians. He said he had seen white or fair skinned Indians on his travels through the jungle.
Presumably worried that someone would steal his chance of a great discovery, Fawcett was given to secrecy and cryptic notes where the Lost City was concerned. Probably the reason he named in the nondescript 'Z'. He theorized this Lost City was located in the Mato Grosso region of the Brazilian Amazon Jungle, between the Upper Xingu and Tapajó rivers. This in part seems to be true as he was last seen alive in this area at a place he named Dead Horse Camp. He shot a lame horse here on a previous expedition. When he entered the jungle in May 1925, never to be seen or heard of again, no one knows his exact heading or ultimate destination, or even if he ever discovered his lost City of Z.
After reading Manuscript 512, it is plain to see why it convinced Colonel Fawcett that a Lost City did indeed exist somewhere in the Amazon jungle. Put yourself in Fawcett's frame of mind at the time, after hearing stories from some of the indigenous tribes about a Lost City in the jungle, and then reading the manuscript. Would you think the same as him?
Although the Manuscript describes the 'city' in great detail, frustratingly it doesn't include a specific location
Please note: Due to parts of the manuscript being eaten by the Copiem worm, parts of the text has been lost. This is indicated by .........
Historical Relation of a hidden and great city of ancient date, without inhabitants, that was discovered in the year 1753.
In America............nos interiores (we inland).......contiguous aos (next to the)....Mestre de Can (Master of Can).............................and his band (commitiva), having for ten years journeyed in the wilds (sertoes) to see if we could locate the famous silver mines of the Great Moribecca (who, by the wickedness (culpa) of a Governor, was not granted letters patent, because the Governor wanted to take the silver mines for himself and the glory thereof, and he, the Moribecca, was kept prisoner in Bahia, till he died, which was done to worm out of him the location of the silver mines. This account came to Rio de Janeiro, in the beginning of the year 1754..."
"After long and wearisome wanderings, incited by the insatiable lust for gold, and almost lost cordillera of mountains, so high that they drew near the ethereal region (chegavdo a regido etherea), and served as a throne of the winds, under the stars; their lustre, from afar, excited our wonder and admiration, principally when the sun shining on them turned to fires the crystals of which the rocks were composed. The view was so beautiful that none could take their eyes from the reflections. It began to rain before we came near enough to take note of these crystalline marvels, and we saw above...The spectacle was bare and sterile rocks, the waters precipitated themselves from the heights, foaming white, like snow, struck and turned to fire by the rays of the sun, like thunder-bolts. Delighted by the pleasing vistas of that....blended....shone and glistered....of the waters and the tranquility....of the day or weather (do tempo), we determined to investigate these prodigious marvels of nature, spread out before us, at the foot of the mountains, without hindrance of forests or rivers that would make it difficult for us to cross them. But when we walked round the foot of the cordillera we found no open way or pass into the recesses of these Alps and Pyrenees of Brazil. So there resulted for us, from this disappointment, an inexplicable sadness.
"We grew weary and intended to retrace our steps, the next day, when it came to pass that one of our negroes, gathering dried sticks, saw a white deer (hum veado branco), and, by that accident, as it fled away, he discovered a road between two sierras, that appeared to have been made by man and not the work of Nature. We were made joyful by this discovery and we started to ascend the road, but found a great boulder that had fallen and broken all to pieces at a spot where, we judged, a paved way (calcada) had been violently upheaved in some far-off day. We spent a good three hours in the ascent of that ancient road, being fascinated by the crystals, at which we marvelled, as they blazed and scintillated in many flashing colours from the rocks. On the summit of the pass through the mountain, we came to a halt.
"Thence, spread out before our eyes, we saw in the open plain (campo raso) greater spectacles (demonstracoes) for our vision of admiration and wonder. At the distance of about a league, as we judged, we saw a great city (povoacao grande), and we estimated, by the extent and sight of it, that it must be some city of the court of Brazil; we at once descended the road towards the valley, but with great caution.....would be, in like case, ordered to explore......by quality and...............if so well as they had noticed........smokes (fumines (?)), that being one of the evident signs or vestiges of the place (povoacao).
"Two days we waited, wondering whether to send out scouts, for the end we longed for, and all alone, we waited till daybreak, in great doubt and confused perplexity of mind, trying to guess if the city had any people in it. But it became clear to us thee were no inhabitants. An Indian of our bandeirantes determined, after two days of hesitation, to risk his life in scouting by way of precaution; but he returned, amazing us by affirming he had met no one; nor could discover foot-steps or traces of any person whatever. This so confounded us that we could not believe we saw dwellings or buildings, and so, all the scouts (os exploradores) in a body, followed in the steps of the Indian......."
"They now saw for themselves that it was true the great city was uninhabited. We, all, therefore, now decided to enter the place, our arms ready for instant use, at daybreak. At our entry we met none to bar our way, and we encountered no other road except the one which led to the dead city. This, we entered under three arches (arcos) of great height, the middle arch being the greatest, and the two of the sides being but small; under the great and principal arch we made out letters, which we could not copy, owing to their great height above the ground.
"Behind, was a street as wide as the three arches, with, here and there, houses of very large size, whose facades of sculptured stone, already blackened with age; alone........inscriptions, all open to the day (todos aberias).....decreases of.......observing, by the regularity and symmetry with their terraces open to the day, without one tile; for the houses had, some of them, burnt floors; others large flagstones.
"We went, with fear and trembling, into some of the houses, and in none did we find vestiges of furniture, or moveable objects by which, or whose use, we might guess at the sort of people who had dwelt therein. The houses were all dark, in the interior, and hardly could the light of day penetrate, even at its dimmest, and, as the vaults gave back the echoes of our speech, the sound of our voices terrified us. We went on into the strange city and we came on a road (street: rua) of great length, and a well set-out plaza (uma praca regular), besides, in it, and in the middle of the plaza a column of black stone of extraordinary grandeur, on whose summit was a statue of a man (homen ordinario: not a god, or demi-god) with a hand on the left hip and right arm out-stretched, pointing with the index finger to the north pole; and each corner of the said plaza is an obelisk like those among the Romans, but now badly damaged, and cleft as by thunderbolts.
"On the right side of the plaza is a superb building, as it were the principal town-house of some great lord of the land; there is a great hall (saldo) at the entrance, but still being awed and afraid, not all of us entered in the hou.......being so many and the retre......ed to form some.........ed we encounter a.....mass of extraordin........it was difficult for him to lift it................
"The bats were so numerous that they fluttered in swarms round the faces of our people, and made so much noise that it was astonishing. Above the principal portico of the street is a figure in half-relief, cut out of the same stone, and naked from the waist upward, crowned with laurel, representing a person of youthful years, without beard, with a girdle (banda) around him, and an under-garment (um fraldelim) open in front at the waist, underneath the shield (escudo) of this figure are certain characters, now badly defaced by time, but we made out the following:
"On the left side of the plaza is another totally ruined building, and the vestiges remaining well show that it was a temple, because of the still standing side of its magnificent facade, and certain naves of stone, standing entire. It covers much ground, and in the ruined halls are seen works of beauty, with other statues of portraits inlaid in the stone, with crosses of various shapes, curves (arches (?) corvos) and many other figures that would take too long to describe here.
"Beyond this building a great part of the city lies completely in ruins, and buried under great masses of earth, and frightful crevasses in the ground, and in all this expanse of utter desolation there is seen no grass, herb, tree, or plant produced by nature, but only mountainous heaps of stone, some raw (that is, unworked), others worked and carved, whereby we understood........they......because again among......of......corpses that..........and part of this unhappy...........and overthrown, perhaps, by some earthquake.
"Opposite this plaza, there runs very swiftly a most deep (caudaloso) and wide river, with spacious banks, that were very pleasing to the eye: it was eleven to twelve fathoms in width, without reckoning the windings, clear and bared at its banks of groves, as of trees and of the trunks that are often brought down in floods. We sounded its depths and found the deepest parts to be fifteen or sixteen fathoms. The country beyond consists wholly of very green and flourishing fields, and so blooming with a variety of flowers that it seemed as if Nature, more attentive to these parts, had laid herself out to create the most beautiful gardens of Flora: we gazed, too, in admiration and astonishment at certain lakes covered with wild rice plants from which we profited, and also at the innumerable flocks of geese that bred in these fertile plains (campos); but it would have been difficult to sound their depths with the hand, in the absence of a sounding-rod.
"Three days we journeyed down the river, and we stumbled on a cataract (uma catadupa) of such roaring noise and commotion of foaming waters, that we supposed the mouths of the much talked of Nile could not have made more trouble or booming, or offered more resistance to our further progress. Afterwards, the river spreads out so much from this cascade that it appears to be a great Ocean (qui parece a grande Oceano). It is all full of peninsulas, covered with green grass, with groves of trees, here and there, that make.........pleas..................Here, we find.........................for want of it, we...............................the variety of game...............many created beings without hunters to hunt and chase them.
"On the eastern side of this cataract, we found various subterranean hollows (subcavoes) and frightful holes, and made trial of their depths with many ropes; but, after many attempts we were never able to plumb their depths. We found, besides, certain broken stones, and (lying) on the surface of the ground, thrown down, with bars of silver (crevadas de prata) that may have been extracted from the mines, abandoned at the time.
"Among these caverns (furnas) we saw some covered with a great flagstone, with the following figures cut into it, that suggest a great mystery. They are as follows:
"Over the portico of the temple, we saw, besides, the following forms:
"Distant a cannon-shot from the abandoned city is a building like a country house (casa de campo), with a frontage of 250 feet. It is approached by a great portico, from which a stairway built with a door communicating with the said great chamber. Each room has its waterspout (or fountain: bica de agua)......................the which water meets..................in the exterior courtyard..............colonnades in the sur............squared and fashioned by hand, overhung with the characters following:
"Thence, leaving that marvel, we went down to the banks of the river to see whether we could find gold, and without difficulty, we saw, on the surface of the soil, a fine trail promising great riches, as well of gold, as of silver: we marveled that this place had been abandoned by those who had formerly inhabited it; for, with all our careful investigations and great diligence we had met no person, in this wilderness, who might tell us of this deplorable marvel of an abandoned city, whose ruins, statues and grandeur, attested its former populous ness, wealth, and its flourishing in the centuries past; whereas, today, it is inhabited by swallows, bats, rats and foxes, that, fed on the innumerable swarms of hens and geese, have become bigger than a pointer dog. The rats have the tails so short that they leap like fleas and do not run or walk, as they do in other places.
"At this place, the band separated, and one company, joined by others, journeyed forward, and, after nine days long marchings, saw, at a distance, on the bank of a great bay (enseada) into which the river spreads, a canoe with some white persons, with long, flowing, black hair, dressed like Europeans................a gunshot fired as a signal to....................for they had escaped. They had...........................shaggy and wild......................their hair is plaited and they wear clothes.
"One of our company, named Joao Antonio, found in the ruins of a house a piece of gold money, of spherical shape, greater than our Brazilian coin of 6,400 reis: on one side was an image, or figure of a kneeling youth; on the other, a bow, a crown, and an arrow (setta), of which coins we doubted not to have found many in the abandoned city; since it was overthrown by an earthquake, which gave no time, so sudden was its onset, to take away precious objects; but it needs a very powerful arm to turn over the rubbish, accumulated in so many long years, as we saw.
"This news is sent to you Honour from the interior of the province of Bahia and from the rivers Para-oacu and Una, and assuring you that we shall give information to no person, whatsoever; for we judge the villages are empty of people and boat owners. But I have given to your Honour the mine we have discovered, reminded of the great deal that is owed to you.
"Supposing that from our band, one of our company went forth, at this time, with a different pretense.....he may, with great harm to your Honour, abandon his poverty and and come to use these great things for his own benefit, taking great care to bribe that Indian (therefore), so as to spoil his purpose and lead your Honour to these great treasures, etc...............................would find, in the entrances..........flagsones.............."
These strange characters were engraved on the great stones, sealing the vault of treasure, that the baneiristas could not open. This completes the fascinating manuscript by the bandeiristas of Minas Geracs that inspired many explorers to search for the lost city. Colonel P. H. Fawcett found that fourteen out of the twenty-four characters inscribed on the pillars and porticoes recorded in the South American manuscript were identical with those he accidentally discovered in the jungle forest of Ceylon. When he got back to civilization he took a copy of the inscriptions to a learned Sinhalese priest, who told him that the writing was a form of Asoka, of the old Asoka Buddhists, in a cypher which only those ancient priests understood. Experts surmise that the bizarre inscriptions record the cacheing, in a time of great dearth, or famine, of an immense treasure that would be thousands of years old.
Fawcett was not the only explorer to act on the information in Manuscript 512, Richard Burton also ventured forth into the Amazon jungle. He wrote a book about his exploration called, Explorations of the Highlands of Brazil: With a Full Account of the Gold & Diamond Mines. Richard Burton Article.