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MU History Department Lecture Series – The Lost City of Zed

lecture_lost-city-of-zedThe Miskatonic University Department of History presents: The Lost City of Zed

Between 1906 and 1924, British adventurer and gifted surveyor Percy Fawcett made seven expeditions into uncharted regions of South America.

Fawcett was friends with author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who based his 1912 novel “The Lost World,” on Fawcett’s exploits.

Fawcett was also a close follower of Madam Blavatsky’s Theosophical Movement. Blavatsky taught that a psychic network of enlightened spiritual masters lived in hidden cities from ancient civilizations around the world.

While exploring Brazil, Fawcett became obsessed with rumors of a legendary abandoned pre-colonial kingdom he called “The Lost City of Zed.”

He based his theory on the journals of 16th Century missionary Gaspar Carvajal, an early explorer of the Andes and the Amazon Basin.

Carvajal wrote about white Indians and female warriors that resembled the Amazons of Greek myth. Another explorer reported seeing a city of gold, in a later report known as Manuscript 512.

Fawcett connected these legends to some strange carvings on stone artifacts in the jungle, that had an angular script loosely resembling Greek.

To Fawcett’s mind, the stories and matched the description of Blavatzy’s lost civilizations. He imagined a Greek city of stone like legends of Atlantis.

His expedition plans were interrupted by the outbreak of World War I, in which he served with the British artillery brigade in Flanders, despite being nearly 50 years old at the time.

But after the war, he returned to Brazil and began to search for Zed. He secured funding from a mysterious group of financiers that called themselves “The Glove.”

He recruited his son, Jack, and on April 20 1925, and the two embarked for the Mato Grosso region of the Amazon, a place known to be inhabited by violent tribes that many explorers have come to call “green hell.”

Fawcett’s last known coordinates were sent in a letter to his wife Nina in a secret code.

The coordinates pointed to a place Fawcett called Dead Horse Camp. Little else is known of their last days, but the party was never heard from again.

Only Fawcett’s compass and signet ring have surfaced over the years.
Fawcett’s wife and others believe the party found their lost city, and lived out their days as high priests. A scholar who studied his private papers believes Fawcett never intended to return to Britain, but believed his son to be a great spiritual leader who would be worshiped as a god once they reached Zed.

Since 1925, up to 100 explorers have died or disappeared trying to retrace Fawcett’s expedition.

One wonders if perhaps the population of Fawcett’s lost city — has grown a little over the years.

For more on The Lost City of Z, look up David Grann’s book about the expedition.

To discuss your theories about Fawcett’s fate, stop by the National History Honors Society, where bold speculation is welcome.

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