Teams of archaeologists are researching a number of ancient Maya sites in Belize that could stand some help to stay intact as important cultural heritage sites.
One of those sites is called Nojol Nah. It is located on the east side of the Bajo Alacranes, which extends across Belize’s northwest corner and parts of Mexico and Guatemala. The Alacranes Bajo is a low-lying area that is very fertile and continues to be today. The Mexican portion has been surveyed in recent years, revealing several large Maya centers and a number of smaller centers. At the far south end of the bajo, in Guatemala, is the major center of Río Azul. Read more.
A monster mouth doorway, ruined pyramid temples and palace remains emerged from the Mexican jungle as archaeologists unearthed two ancient Mayan cities.
Found in the southeastern part of the Mexican state of Campeche, in the heart of the Yucatan peninsula, the cities were hidden in thick vegetation and hardly accessible.
"Aerial photographs helped us in locating the sites," expedition leader Ivan Sprajc, of the Research Center of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (ZRC SAZU), said.
Sprajc and his team found the massive remains as they further explored the area around Chactun, a large Maya city discovered by the Slovenian archaeologist in 2013. Read more.
Deep in the jungle in the north of Guatemala, along deep-rutted 4x4 tracks, the pyramids of the great Maya city of Xultún are hidden under heavy vegetation and oddly symmetrical hills. But crudely cut tunnels in the sides of the hills signal a modern intrusion.
The tunnels are the work of “huecheros”—the local slang term for antiquity looters, derived from the Maya word for armadillo. On a building overlooking an ancient plaza, the looters scrawl a message, brazen and taunting: “We, the huecheros, stuck it to this place.”
Almost every pyramid in the sprawling site has a looter’s tunnel on at least one side. Most of the hieroglyphic panels, the pottery, and the jade from tombs here have been raided and sold on the black market to wealthy foreigners. Read more.
The Ancient Maya City and Protected Tropical Forests of Calakmul in Mexico’s Campeche state have been named “mixed natural and cultural” World Heritage Sites by UNESCO, the National Anthropology and History Institute, or INAH, said.
The World Heritage Committee added the two Mexican sites to the World Heritage List at its meeting in Doha, Qatar, on Saturday.
This is the first mixed site in Mexico added by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO, to its list, the INAH said. Read more.
As you read this article, a team of archaeologists, students and volunteers are busy methodically digging up ancient structures and artifacts at archaeological sites in Belize with names like Xnoha, Nojol Nah, and Tulix Mul. These sites contain the remains of ancient Maya settlements. The work is carefully planned, slow, and meticulously executed; and like any physical labor in a subtropical environment during the summer months, it can be sweaty, dirty, and tiring. For these students and volunteers, there is no monetary reward for this. They do it because of the excitement of discovery and the new knowledge it will generate about the life-ways of people who are long gone.
But this team is working against time. These sites, especially Nojol Nah, face the real possibility of destruction before the investigators can glean all of the information they need, and conserve what they can find. Read more.
Tough and tiny zircon crystals have helped researchers rule out an enormous volcanic blast as the source of ash used to make Maya pottery, deepening this long-running archaeological mystery.
"While we’re a little sad not to have solved the mystery, we’re really confident we can say the most likely source quite conclusively isn’t a match," said lead author Kevin Coffey, a geology master’s student at the University of California, Los Angeles.
However, the results did a reveal a tantalizing new pottery puzzle for scientists to solve — whether the Maya’s ash came from one volcano or many spewing cones. Read more.
Archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) have at last confirmed that the forest in Quintana Roo hides an ancient Maya urban centre covering more than 34 hectares, containing at least six architectural groups.
For people who lived in the area, El Paredón, a wall covered with creepers and roots, was clear evidence of an ancient city that had been “eaten” by the jungle.
The researchers could give the site no other name than what the locals called the area; Noh Kah, “Big City”. For two years, specialists from the National School of Anthropology and History (ENAH) along with archaeologists from the INAH carried out detailed field collection of ceramic material and the topographic survey of the ancient metropolis. Read more.
The Alacranes Bajo, a low-lying, highly fertile and productive stretch of land which extends across Belize’s northwest corner and parts of Mexico and Guatemala, has been farmed intensively for centuries by the ancient Maya. Today is no different, with its modern inhabitants continuing to clear the land.
One would think that this is a good thing. After all, agricultural development feeds people and can raise many a family out of the misery of poverty. But progress, particularly in Belize and its Central American neighboring countries, often comes at a steep price, as locations and resources that represent critical cultural heritage and undiscovered history are lost to the bulldozer and other human tools for development, not to mention looting and inadvertent destruction caused by casual visitors. Read more.