The Lost City of Bahia
Myth and Archeology at Brazil Empire

In the Livraria Pública da Corte, actual Biblioteca Nacional, at the city of Rio de Janeiro [Public Library of the Real Court, actual National Library], in 1839, an ancient manuscript was found by the naturalist Manuel Ferreira Lagos. The title of the document was Relação historica de uma occulta, e grande povoação antiquissima sem moradores (Historic relations of a hidden much ancient, great city and without residents}. In the catalogo, it is the 512 number document [image above].


The legend of the city appears to be linked with the Robério Dias saga, also known like Muribeca, a man that was arrested for not reveal to the Portuguese government the location of richest silver mines in Bahia. The adventure begun when a group of explorers, the bandeirantes (flagger, pionner) organized an expedition by the hinterland of Bahia on searching the mines.


The story begins when the expeditionaries found a very brilliant montain. Glow of cristals. The men were admired with the landscape, but they could not climb the rock formation. A man, trying to reach a white deer (albino, perhaps), found a trail, a road built at the inner of the mountain. Through there, the expedition followed its way. From the top of the mountain they saw a great village, it was a city, in true. It was empty, without residents. Apparently, there was nobody there.




Illustration Village of St. Ignatius  ̶  City of Gold Gentio, state of Bahia, Brazil. There, strange rock formations resemble the cyclopean figures of Easter Island.




The stone way was the unique access to the city. At the entrance there were three big arcs. In the middle stood the largest arch flanked by two other, smaller. On the largest arc there was a inscription. However, the signs, were being illegible and for this, they could not be copied or identified. The houses were well made and symmetric. Seeming like a only one construction, were, in true numerous individual buildings.
























Exploring the interior of the housings, the expedition found no furniture or any other object. At the end of the street, there was a square. There, existed a huge black coluna on whose top there was the statue of a man. The man had his left hand on the hip while his right arm stood pointed to the North Pole. In each corner of the square had an obelisc in ancient roman style. On the main portic of the street also there was a figure made of the same stone naked from the waist up wearing a crown of laurels and a shield with inscriptions.


On both sides of the square there were huge buildings. The first was like a temple with many figure. It had, crows and crosses sculptured on tall relief on the walls. Other places of the town, were lay in ruins, presumably, result of an earthquake. Near the square there was also a big river.


Following the river the expeditionaries found a great waterfall. At this place there were many caves. Some of this caves stood closed with stone plataforms, where there were many other inscriptions. Among the ruins was also found a gold coin too big with figures engraved on both sides. A side, had the effigy of a young kneeling. The other side, had the images of an arc, an arrow and a crown.


The first amazing fact about the ruins is that don't belong to the architetural urban style portuguese or spanish of the eighteen century. Inscriptions, temples, portals and statues reveal a mediterranea origin of the classic antiguity. This is a mistery.


Some elements of the narrative belong to ancient folkloric traditions that dating back from the seventeenth century. Legends that talk about mountains, great walls of rocks incrusted with precious minerals and metals that enchant the landscape with their splendorous luminosity. One of the legends is The tale of the Golden Lagoon.


Enchanted Cities



Illustration depicting the submerged city of Sapucaia-OROC or Sapucaia-Roca, that stays at the bottom of the waters of the Madeira river.



The researcher Hermann Kruse and the historian Pedro Calmon they believed that the author of the 512 manuscript was the pioneer Joao da Silva Guimaraes, in 1752. Guimaraes traveled trough the hinterland of Bahia state between the years of 1752-53. It was one of those responsible for spreading the legend of the silver mines of Robério Dias, The Muribeca.


The place, was presumably located in the region of the rivers Paraguaçu and Una. However, since the main interest of the adventurer was to find riches, he continued his searchs. Went to live among the indians after 1764, nevermore he was seen.


The brazilian historian Buarque de Hollanda recalls that the tradition of the enchanted cities is a myth arcana related to the idea of the lost pardise. Remembrance of many cultures in different historic times around the world. At Latin America there are many legends about enchanted cities like the famous myth of the Eldourado. At the city of Lagoa Santa, Minas Gerais state, the folkloric records tell the story of a submerged village. At Bahia state, at the course of the São Francisco river, people talk about another submerged town called city of Emeralds.


Martinho de Mendonça de Pena e de Proença, philologist, member of the Royal Academy of Lisbon, in 1730, realized an investigation into the mysterious inscriptions found at Sao Tome das Letras, Minas Gerais. In 1738 the signs were known throughout the province trough copies. In reviewing one of these reproductions, we noticed a great similarity with the glyphs of some of the lost city, especially crosses and Latin letters. Moreover, were interpreted by one of the authors of reproduction, Matthew Scott, as Roman characters.



Colonel Fawcett and the Lost City of Bahia


Many controversial hypotheses have been prepared on the origin of the builders of the lost city, hitherto known only through legends and chronicles. For some it could be Inca, pre-Inca, Egyptians or even built by survivors of the lost continent of Atlantis, like the coronel and famous archaeologist explorer Percy Harrison Fawcett (1867–1925) believed.


Fawcett became known for his infatigable search for a lost city at Mato Grosso state. But his solitary trip to Bahia is a fact virtually unknown. In his Book of Travel he wrote that had access to the 512 document. Fawcett became known for his infatigable search for a lost city at Mato Grosso state. But his solitary trip to Bahia is a fact virtually unknown.


In his Book of Travel he wrote that had access to the 512 document. At Rio de Janeiro, ancient capital of Brazil, he heard the narrative of the colonel O'Sullan Beare, whose told him about his visit to a great and ancient city at Bahia, in 1913, with the help of a local guide. There, colonel Beare saw a negress column at the middle of a square. On the top of the pillar, there was a statue, how it was described in the document 512.


Fawcett went to the Contas river region where heard narratives of peasants that stayed lost. During their walking through the forest, they found the city of stones. There, existed statues and many streets. The indians of the Aimorés and Botocudos tribes. They told about the villages of fire with their roofs made of gold. The english explorer believed that Brazil is the most ancient continent of the world. Initially, the land it would have been inhabited by troglodytes. After, by survivers of the cataclism that destroyed the mythical Atlantis.



Greeks and Phoenicians


One of the strangest puzzles that is related to The Lost City of Bahia are the inscriptions. In the 1930s, Bernardo Silva Ramos, archaeologist and paleographer examined the issue. He had already deciphered an inscription supposedly phoenician in the Gávea Stone, in the city of Rio de Janeiro. About the inscriptions on the manuscript 512, Ramos found reference to an ancient greek ruler, Pisistratus (6th century BCE - 527 BCE).






Heinz Budweg, artist, researcher at the folklore and culture of Brazil, especially in iIndigenous traditions, believes that "the city was built by the Vikings around the year 1000 the Christian era. They left a complex network of sewers, unthinkable in Brazil until end of last century". Budweg says that also were found runic inscriptions at the entrance of a mine.




The linguist and explorer Luis Caldas Tibiriç presented other possibility: the brazilian indigenous never built houses of stone. Some buildings seem like belonging to the epoch of the Middle Ages at Ethiopia. The inscriptions could be in the gueez language, which is ethiopian. The Ethiopians that recorded their travels through the oceans in chronics in which talk of distant lands where they arrived with their big boats.


LANGER, Johnni. A cidade perdida da Bahia: mito e arqueologia no Brasil Império. Revista Brasileira de História nº43, vol. 22 - São Paulo: 2002.


MAUSO, Pablo Villarubia. A Cidade Perdida do Manuscrito 512. In Revista Sexto Sentido publicado em 04/05/2009. []



may  ̶  2010