William Gadoury is a 15-year-old student from Saint-Jean-de-Matha in Lanaudière, Quebec. The precocious teen has been fascinated by all things Mayan for several years, devouring any information he could find on the topic.
During his research, Gadoury examined 22 Mayan constellations and discovered that if he projected those constellations onto a map, the shapes corresponded perfectly with the locations of 117 Mayan cities. Incredibly, the 15-year-old was the first person to establish this important correlation.
Then Gadoury took it one step further. He examined a twenty-third constellation which contained three stars, yet only two corresponded to known cities.
Gadoury’s hypothesis? There had to be a city in the place where that third star fell on the map.
Satellite images later confirmed that, indeed, geometric shapes visible from above imply that an ancient city with a large pyramid and thirty buildings stands exactly where Gadoury said they would be. If the find is confirmed, it would be the fourth largest Mayan city in existence.
Once Gadoury had established where he thought the city should be, the young man reached out to the Canadian Space Agency where staff was able to obtain satellites through NASA and JAXA, the Japanese space agency.
“What makes William’s project fascinating is the depth of his research,” said Canadian Space Agency liaison officer Daniel de Lisle. “Linking the positions of stars to the location of a lost city along with the use of satellite images on a tiny territory to identify the remains buried under dense vegetation is quite exceptional.”
Gadoury has decided to name the city K’ÀAK ‘CHI, a Mayan phrase which in English means “Mouth of Fire.”
Now that is the way you do science: Find a correlation, form a theory explaining it, make a prediction, and verify it in the real world. The preliminary confirmation is by remote sensing with satellite images showing the geometrical shapes.
“I did not understand why the Maya built their cities away from rivers, on marginal lands, and in the mountains. They had to have another reason, and as they worshiped the stars, the idea came to me to verify my hypothesis,” Gadoury told Le Journal de Montreal.
“I was really surprised and excited when I realized that the most brilliant stars of the constellations matched the largest Maya cities,” he added.
The next step for Gadoury will be seeing the city in person. He’s already presented his findings to two Mexican archaeologists, and has been promised that he’ll join expeditions to the area.
What a delightful young scientist and a wonderful achievement.