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Why Guatemala's Archaeological Sites Remain Unprotected Email

Friday, 23 February 2018 14:11
Last Updated on Friday, 23 February 2018 14:13

Newly discovered areas of Petén are unprotected and experts recommend consensus on an inter-institutional agreement to safeguard new prehispanic structures found.

 

By Brenda Martínez, Prensa Libre

After it was announced, at the beginning of the month, the existence of 60 thousand structures hidden in archaeological sites under the Petén forest, scanned with LiDAR technology, the question remains as to how an expanded area can be protected from predation of 2 thousand 100 square km. 

Last Tuesday, the Minister of Culture and Sports, José Luis Chea, told the EFE news agency that state funds destined for "the protection of this immense number of new monuments do not exist". The 21 excavated archaeological sites can barely be protected, with part of the Q540 million destined for sports, heritage, development and arts.

"Unfortunately, the budget of the Ministry of Culture and Sports is inadequate to ensure that there is so much cultural wealth in Guatemala. The wildlife around the archaeological sites is the jurisdiction of the Conap -National Council of Protected Areas-, so there should be better integration of these institutions to be more effective, "says archaeologist Francisco Estrada-Belli, a researcher who participates in the LiDAR project.

When asked if widely disseminated maps of archaeological discoveries could alert looters to their location, Estrada-Belli indicates that there are no exact references to where the sites are located. "Also, these places are unknown to the archaeologist and the rest of the population. The looters are local people and have known them very well for some time, "he adds.

Read more: Why Guatemala's Archaeological Sites Remain Unprotected

Sprawling Maya network discovered under Guatemala jungle Email

Friday, 23 February 2018 13:07
Last Updated on Friday, 23 February 2018 13:24

Researchers have found more than 60,000 hidden Maya ruins in Guatemala in a major archaeological breakthrough.

Laser technology was used to survey digitally beneath the forest canopy, revealing houses, palaces, elevated highways, and defensive fortifications.

The landscape, near already-known Maya cities, is thought to have been home to millions more people than other research had previously suggested.

The researchers mapped over 810 square miles (2,100 sq. km) in northern Petén.

Archaeologists believe the cutting-edge technology will change the way the world will see the Maya civilization.

"I think this is one of the greatest advances in over 150 years of Maya archaeology," said Stephen Houston, Professor of Archaeology and Anthropology at Brown University.

Mr. Houston told the BBC that after decades of work in the archaeological field, he found the magnitude of the recent survey "breathtaking". He added, "I know it sounds hyperbolic but when I saw the [Lidar] imagery, it did bring tears to my eyes."

Read more: Sprawling Maya network discovered under Guatemala jungle

Indiana Joan: Meet western Australia’s real-life tomb raider, 95-year-old Joan Howard Email

Monday, 06 November 2017 01:07
Last Updated on Monday, 06 November 2017 01:19

The value of Joan Howard's collection of artifacts has appreciated beyond $1m. Photo: 7 News

By Joseph Catanzaro

Deep beneath the badlands of Palestine, alone in a darkened tomb, Joan Howard crawled forward on her stomach in search of lost treasures.

It was the late 1960s, a turbulent time in the Middle East, but the thrill of discovery drove Mrs. Howard deeper into the grave.

Sluggish scorpions scattered and clacked amid the bones of the ancient dead as she scooped artefacts and the detritus of ages into a bucket.

Only when it was full did she inch backwards. Ten meters above her, at the top of a vertical shaft hewn out of the desert bedrock, a colleague began to winch her swaying bucket of artefacts to the surface.

Five decades and thousands of kilometers away from that moment, sitting in the tastefully decorated surrounds of her riverside apartment in Perth this week, Mrs. Howard smiles and hefts a mummy mask pulled from the sucking sands of Egypt on one of her many expeditions.

Read more: Indiana Joan: Meet western Australia’s real-life tomb raider, 95-year-old Joan Howard

What happened to the Christopher Columbus ships Email

Saturday, 14 October 2017 14:54
Last Updated on Saturday, 14 October 2017 14:09

525 years ago, Christopher Columbus first came to the continent that would later be called America aboard three ships: Santa Maria, La Niña and Pinta. In spite of being so important for the history of the humanity, there are no remains of its existence in any museum. 

For centuries, archaeologists and treasure hunters have tried to find them without success. Why? 

Poor conservation conditions 

The travel notes of the Genoese Admiral note that the most important vessel - the Santa Maria - ran aground during its first voyage on the coast of what is now Haiti and Columbus ordered to use its wood to build Fort Christmas, the first Spanish population in the New Continent. 

Three years ago, the American marine explorer Barry Clifford believed he had found his remains, but UNESCO denied this information when he concluded that they were from a later period. 

What would happen if Columbus had not come to America? "Europe would be plunged into obscurantism" 

Read more: What happened to the Christopher Columbus ships

Shipwreck That Changed History Found off Florida Coast Email

Tuesday, 20 December 2016 11:23
Last Updated on Tuesday, 20 December 2016 11:26

 

 

The remains of a 500-year-old sailing vessel thought to be the wreck of the French warship “La Trinite” have been found off the Atlantic coast of Florida somewhere in the vicinity of Cape Canaveral.

The wreck, its exact location being withheld from the public to protect the site, may have been the flagship of a French colonization fleet sent by King Charles IX in the middle of the sixteenth century to establish a Protestant colony in the southeastern US. The French navigator who led the fleet, Jean Ribault, commanded the 32-gun flagship, only to lose the vessel and three additional galleons during a hurricane in 1565.

Archaeologists have been on the hunt for the ship for a number of years, according to the Associated Foreign Press. If the wreck discovered off the coast does happen to be “La Trinite”, the archaeological and historical implications are high, according to John de Bry, the director of the nonprofit Center for Historical Archaeology. Such a find would be “unparalleled,” he added.

Read more: Shipwreck That Changed History Found off Florida Coast

Panama leads fight against treasure hunters Email

Sunday, 30 October 2016 08:48
Last Updated on Sunday, 30 October 2016 14:02

 

 

Panama is, for now, the only Latin American country really committed to conservation of underwater cultural heritage and the fight against treasure hunters, Efe said one of the global leaders of the industry, the Spanish archaeologist Ivan Negueruela.

Besides being one of the first countries to ratify the Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO in 2001 and in operation since 2008, Panama is the only country in the region that is trying to form a specialized unit that can deal with the pirates of the century.

"Hopefully Panama serve as oil stain and other countries in the region imitate their model," said Negueruela, which runs for more than a decade the National Museum of Underwater Archaeology (Arqua), located in the Spanish city Cartagena (southeast).

In March 2015, Panama warned Spain of the appearance ten years ago a Spanish galleon sunk near the archipelago of Las Perlas on the Pacific and subsequent pillaging by an American company, with the connivance of the Panamanian administration then.

"At the current government he did not like what was done then. By dividing the treasure, this American company was very villainous with Panamanians and gave them very little material and in very bad condition. Most were coins semi destroyed without any commercial value, "said the expert.

Read more: Panama leads fight against treasure hunters

International Meeting on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage Sites, 22-23 September, Paris Email

Tuesday, 13 September 2016 22:28
Last Updated on Tuesday, 13 September 2016 22:41

 

 An International Meeting on Underwater Cultural Heritage Sites Protection will be held on 22 and 23 September 2016 at UNESCO Headquarters (22nd September  in Room II and 23rd in Room IX, Fontenoy building) in support of implementing the 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage

It will focus on the issue of quantification and identification of threats to underwater cultural heritage especially in what regards pillage and commercial exploitation and on preventive measures to be taken. International experts will present their experiences, followed by a round table which will allow the exchange of views regarding the effectiveness of the means used. 

The meeting will bring together representatives of the States Parties to the UNESCO 2001 Convention and other States, experts representing different national authorities (Culture and Foreign Ministries, Navy, Customs, Coastguards, Police, Museums etc.) and international organizations (UNESCO, INTERPOL, Europol, etc.).

Read more: International Meeting on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage Sites, 22-23...

13th century Maya codex, long shrouded in controversy, proves genuine Email

Sunday, 11 September 2016 13:46
Last Updated on Sunday, 11 September 2016 13:56

 

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] —The Grolier Codex, an ancient document that is among the rarest books in the world, has been regarded with skepticism since it was reportedly unearthed by looters from a cave in Chiapas, Mexico, in the 1960s. 

But a meticulous new study of the codex has yielded a startling conclusion: The codex is both genuine and likely the most ancient of all surviving manuscripts from ancient America. 

Stephen Houston, the Dupee Family Professor of Social Science and co-director of the Program in Early Cultures at Brown University, worked with Michael Coe, professor emeritus of archeology and anthropology at Yale and leader of the research team, along with Mary Miller of Yale and Karl Taube of the University of California-Riverside. They reviewed “all known research on the manuscript,” analyzing it “without regard to the politics, academic and otherwise, that have enveloped the Grolier,” the team wrote in its study “The Fourth Maya Codex.” 

The paper, published in the journal Maya Archaeology, fills a special section of the publication and includes a lavish facsimile of the codex. 

The study, Houston said, “is a confirmation that the manuscript, counter to some claims, is quite real. The manuscript was sitting unremarked in a basement of the National Museum in Mexico City, and its history is cloaked in great drama. It was found in a cave in Mexico, and a wealthy Mexican collector, Josué Sáenz, had sent it abroad before its eventual return to the Mexican authorities.” 

Read more: 13th century Maya codex, long shrouded in controversy, proves genuine

Nazi U-boat photographed off North Carolina coast 72 years after it sank Email

Tuesday, 06 September 2016 15:42
Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 September 2016 15:56

Harriet Alexander, New York 

A Nazi submarine which sank off the coast of North Carolina 72 years ago has been pictured for the first time, showing how the vessel has remained as a remarkably intact tomb for the 45 sailors on-board. 

The U-boat, U-576, had been dispatched to the American coast to hunt Allied cargo ships. 

Captained by Hans-Dieter Heinicke, it had been damaged during its months of activity in the Atlantic. And the submarine was limping home to Germany when, on July 15, 1942, it spotted a convoy of 24 ships. 

Among them was the Bluefields, a merchant tanker flying the Nicaraguan flag, and headed from Virginia to Florida. 

Heinicke, 29, had managed to sink three ships during his four prior patrols. One of his victims, the armed British freighter Empire Spring, had sunk off Nova Scotia, killing all 55 mariners aboard. 

Another, the Norwegian vessel Taborfjell, sank off Cape Cod so fast that only three of its 20-man crew survived. 

In the case of the American freighter Pipestone County, torpedoed off Cape Henry, Virginia, in April 1942, Heinicke surfaced near the lifeboats and gave the survivors provisions. He apologized for sinking their ship, and no one was killed. 

Read more: Nazi U-boat photographed off North Carolina coast 72 years after it sank

Detained Three People With Alleged Artifacts of Ciudad Blanca Email

Monday, 06 June 2016 00:18
Last Updated on Monday, 06 June 2016 00:21

 A total of 24 items had hidden subject captured in a boat Sunday in the community of Palacios, Gracias a Dios

 

Gracias a Dios, Honduras - At least three people were arrested Sunday in possession of alleged archaeological artifacts from the legendary Ciudad Blanca in Gracias a Dios, in northeastern Honduras. 

The captured were identified as Fredy Arias Nole Cerna, Cerna Jeffrey Benjamin Echeverria Maradiaga and Denis Eli Reyes , all of legal age and residents in Columbus, North Coast, the Interagency Security Force (Fusina) reported. 

The authorities detailed that individuals were seized with 24 stolen artifacts, allegedly taken from White City, a pre - Columbian site hidden in the jungles of Honduras La Mosquitia. 

The subjects wore objects hidden in clothing and were transported in a boat. They were arrested in Palacios community in the municipality of Juan Francisco Bulnes, Gracias a Dios. 

In addition to these samples, Fusina also seized material of deforestation and endangered birds. 

Authorities said those captured were referred to the prosecutor of Puerto Lempira for processing. 

Read more: Detained Three People With Alleged Artifacts of Ciudad Blanca