All kinds of news outlets have picked up this Le Journal de Montreal story on William Gadoury, a teenager who noticed that Mayan constellations lined up with their ancient cities… except one constellation was missing. So, as ScienceAlert retells the story, he said, there’s a star on this map here, there should be a city on that map there… and there was:
“I did not understand why the Maya built their cities away from rivers, on marginal lands and in the mountains,” Gadoury told French-Canadian magazine, Journal de Montréal. “They had to have another reason, and as they worshiped the stars, the idea came to me to verify my hypothesis. I was really surprised and excited when I realised that the most brilliant stars of the constellations matched the largest Maya cities.”
Gadoury had been studying 22 Maya constellations for years before releasing that he could line up the positions of 117 Maya cities on the ground with maps of stars and constellations above – something that no one had pieced together before.
With this in mind, he located a 23rd constellation, which included just three stars. According to his sky map, he could only link up two cities with the three stars, so suspected that a third city remained undetected in that spot.
[H]e knew that a fire had stripped much of the forest in the area back in 2005, which meant that from above, you might have an easier time spotting ancient ruins than if the canopy had been thriving for the past couple of thousand years.
All he needed to do was access satellite imagery of the area from the Canadian Space Agency, which he mapped onto Google Earth images to see if there were any signs of his lost city.
Further analyses from satellites belonging to NASA and the Japanese Space Agency revealed what looks like a pyramid and 30 buildings at the location mapped by the star, Yucatan Expat Life reports. “Not only has he discovered a new Maya city, but it is one of the five largest on record.”
Gadoury has tentatively named the lost city K’àak’ Chi’, meaning “fire mouth”, and will be working with researchers from the Canadian Space Agency to get his discovery published in a peer-reviewed journal. He’ll also be presenting his findings at Brazil’s International Science fair in 2017.