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.
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."
The gold bullion valued at $ 550,000 was stolen from a display case designed to allow visitors to carry it, but could not get it out.
BY GWEN FILOSA
After someone stole a 17th-century gold ingot from a Key West museum more than seven years ago, federal prosecutors have charged two men with taking the valuable artifact.
Richard Steven Johnson, 41, a resident of Rio Linda, California, and Jarred Alexander Goldman, 32, a resident of Palm Beach Gardens, were charged with conspiracy to commit a crime against the United States as well as theft of an important work of art.
The theft took place at around 5:15 pm on August 18, 18, 2010, and since then, the Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Museum, located at 200 Greene Street, is waiting to retrieve the stolen piece. However, the gold bullion has not recovered, prosecutors said on Monday.
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