To this day, the disappearance of Percy Harrison Fawcett is still a mystery. He was last heard of on May 29, 1925. He was working his way through Brazil and Bolivia to find the lost city he called “Z.” It was at this point that Fawcett, his son Jack and Jack’s friend Raleigh went through Xingu River, a south eastern river flowing into the Amazon River, and were never seen again.
In our modern world of globalization and international travel, the idea of discovery and exploration of lost and ancient cities or archaeological sites almost seems foreign. But that is also what makes adventurous stories like that of Fawcett and Indiana Jones – an exciting and intriguing one, especially for us modern day travellers.
Fawcett’s archaeological and exploration expeditions were numerous and diverse, and thus no wonder why Fawcett is thought to have been one of the inspirations for the Indiana Jones series. He was born in 1867 in India to a father who was part of the Royal Geographic Society. At 20 years, he served in the British Army’s Royal Artillery, and later in the British secret service in North Africa. Having been friends with Arthur Conan Doyle, his stories were used as inspiration for his book, The Lost World. Other writers like Peter Fleming, have written about Fawcett’s adventures and their search for him in Brazilian Adventure.
The first expedition Fawcett made was in 1906 when he was commissioned by the Royal Geographic Society to map out the jungle areas of Brazil and Bolivia. Up until 1924, he made 7 more expeditions through the previously un-chartered territory, mapping the area, studying local wildlife and archaeology, and meeting locals. When meeting the local native indian tribes, he would offer gifts and they would then return his favour with kindness. This is how even through 7 expeditions through the area, Fawcett remained alive.
Having studied ancient legends and historical records, Fawcett came to believe that there was a lost city in the Mato Grosso area of Brazil. He called this city “Z” and he set out in 1925 to find this lost city.
Since then, there have been many rumours and hypotheses of what happened to Fawcett, but ultimately, nobody knows. It is thought that as Fawcett, Jack, and Raleigh were going along the river, they lost the gifts meant for the tribes, and were thus killed. Other stories tell of the three men being eaten by wild animals, or by natural causes in the Brazilian jungle. Numerous claims of people having found Fawcett’s bones have not been confirmed – and thus the mystery of his death continues.