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Bill would protect water-authority lands from artifact looters Email

Monday, 20 May 2013 11:04
Last Updated on Monday, 20 May 2013 12:01

arrowheadsConservation Arrowheads seized in the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation… (Fish and Wildlife)


By Eloísa Ruano González, Orlando Sentinel

ORLANDO, FLORIDA - Treasure hunters have long pilfered arrowheads, pottery and other archaeological artifacts on state lands, risking jail time if caught.

But a loophole in state law meant that looters didn't face consequences for their thievery on Lake County Water Authority lands. That protection may be about to end.

Legislators in their recently concluded session approved a bill that makes it a crime to pilfer historical finds on water-authority lands. Looters on lands of the two water authorities affected — Lake's and the Toho Water Authority in Osceola — could face up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine under the legislation, which will be sent to Gov. Rick Scott for his signature.

"It finally gives us the ability to prosecute people who come to public lands to archaeologically loot," said Mike Perry, Lake County Water Authority executive director. "It gives all our properties the same protection state lands enjoy."

Read more: Bill would protect water-authority lands from artifact looters

More Ancient Ruins Destroyed Email

Wednesday, 15 May 2013 19:42
Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 May 2013 20:25

Since this past Saturday, has been reporting on the unconscionable destruction of the Mayan Temple Noh Mul, located in northern Belize. Then you start hearing reports from archaeologists in the field that this is a fairly common event in Belize. Well, just when you thought that you had heard the worst about the loss of irreplaceable historic cultural assets.

Earlier today I was contacted by Archaeologist Gary Ziegler who has been working down in Peru with yet another story concerning the destruction of ancient ruins.

By Gary Ziegler


1) Revisit Machu Picchu to evaluate new Ministry of Culture policies in place, the current effect of tourism and obtain additional photography for the Ziegler Malville book focusing on Inca astronomy, symbolism and sacred geography to be published in September.

2) Revisit Choquequirao and associated Inca sites. Collect additional data and photography for the book. Evaluate access routes and effects of increased tourism.

The Team: Steve Bein, Lillian Roberts, Joy Collins, Ken Mick, Ken Greenwood, Amanda Stouffer, Edwin Duenas, Paolo Greer, Gary Ziegler.

Read more: More Ancient Ruins Destroyed

Contractor Bulldozes Mayan Temple Email

Wednesday, 15 May 2013 13:38
Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 May 2013 13:47


Jules Vasquez reporting

BELIZE - Noh Mul. it’s name means the Big Hill but it’s not so big any more, this once towering and stout ceremonial center in San Jose/San Pablo has been whittled down to a narrow core by excavators and bulldozers. Whodunnit? Contractors who’re using the rich gravel and limestone content to fill roads in nearby Douglas Village.

Now, this was the main temple, the ceremonial center for Noh Mul, at about 20 meters among the tallest buildings in Northern Belize - and it’s not centuries old, it’s millennia, thousands of years old and the thought that it’s rich limestone bricks cut with stone tools in the BC era, the thought that this could be used for road fill is a manifest outrage and a particularly painful one for these Archeologists who were called out to the area today. We were there when they first arrived and got their initial emotional reaction:

Dr. Allan Moore - Archaeologist, Institute of Archaeology

"This is one of the largest buildings in Northern Belize. I am appalled! I was hoping that when I was driving up from the main San Juan road that it would not be this one but when I got closer I couldn't believe it when I saw all the trucks. This is an incredible destruction."

Dr. John Morris - Archaeologist, Institute of Archaeology

"This is one of the worst that I have seen in my entire 25 years of Archaeology in Belize. We can't salvage what has happened out here - it is an incredible display of ignorance. I am appalled and don't know what to say at this particular moment."

Read more: Contractor Bulldozes Mayan Temple

Scientists Aiding Search for Lost Cities in Central America Email

Wednesday, 08 May 2013 14:25
Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 May 2013 14:53


FORT COLLINS - Colorado State University professors Christopher Fisher and Stephen Leisz have partnered with an international team of researchers utilizing LiDAR technology to seek ancient settlements and human constructed landscapes in an area long rumored to contain the legendary city of Ciudad Blanca – the mythical “White City” – in Central America.

The project is a collaboration of the Global Heritage Foundation (GHF), UTL Productions, the National Center for Airborne Laser Mapping (NCALM), CSU, and the Honduran government. It is outlined in detail in the May 6 edition of The New Yorker.

Fisher, associate professor of archaeology, and Leisz, assistant professor of geography, have successfully worked with airborne LiDAR to help reveal a lost pre-Columbian city in central Mexico. LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) is a remote sensing technique used to examine the earth’s surface.

Researchers focused their search for evidence of ancient settlements in the Mosquitia Coast region of Central America. Until now, dense tropical forests and relative inaccessibility of the region have hampered systematic archaeological investigation.

Read more: Scientists Aiding Search for Lost Cities in Central America

Nova Scotia shipwrecks swallowed by sea, ignored by government Email

Monday, 06 May 2013 12:15
Last Updated on Monday, 06 May 2013 12:23


The Globe and Mail

The rugged coastline of Nova Scotia is home to more than 10,000 shipwrecks – a coveted treasure of sailing ships, steamships and paddle wheelers, most from the 1700 and 1800s.

The wrecks, valuable in their own right, are priceless monuments to human exploration. Yet, if the delicate vessels are left unrecovered for too long, they risk becoming lost to the frigid Atlantic waters in which they dwell.

Now the area once fought over by pirates has become the scene of a battle between a cash-strapped government and private enterprise over who has the right to explore and salvage these treasures. It’s an underwater echo of space exploration in the United States, which has seen a major decline in federal funding since its heyday of the 1960s, before companies such as Virgin and Red Bull stepped in.

The Nova Scotia government, struggling to balance its books, says it cannot afford to make such exploration a priority. Private explorers, meanwhile, are keen to step in.

At the forefront of these private interests is Terry Dwyer, who has created the first shipwreck school in Nova Scotia.

The seasonal school will be run by five part-time instructors and will teach everything from underwater photography to detecting objects through sound technology. It’s adventure tourism and professional training all in one, except for one glitch: Shipwreck salvaging is illegal in Nova Scotia. And while the school itself will not be stripping wrecks of their artifacts, the initiative is one step forward for the private sector in this final frontier of exploration.

The southeast winds are famously unforgiving on the coast, where ships hoping to follow the 49th parallel to England misjudged the rocky ledges, crevices and gullies extending to the shore.

Private treasure-salvaging operations were made illegal in Nova Scotia about three years ago, after the province bowed to pressure to “match the spirit of the UNESCO Convention on Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage,” according to a news release from 2010.

Read more: Nova Scotia shipwrecks swallowed by sea, ignored by government

France reveals that false archaeologist wants to excavate Machu Picchu Email

Wednesday, 24 April 2013 12:29
Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 April 2013 13:58

The regional director of Culture of Cusco , David Ugarte Vega Centeno, said yesterday that the French citizen Thierry Jamin , who intended to excavate Machu Picchu in search of the tomb of Pachacutec, is not an archaeologist nor has any scientific training whatsoever.

The information was given to Ugarte by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France , who warned of the risk to our cultural heritage.

Veronique Gervais, of the Division of Research and Exchanges scientists mentioned ministry in France, met with the Ambassador of Peru in Paris, who warned of this.

"This office has sent an official letter warning that Thierry Jamin is considered a person that can harm our heritage and damaging Franco-Peruvian on archeology," said Ugarte to El Comercio.

Read more: France reveals that false archaeologist wants to excavate Machu Picchu

Preservation of Southwest Archaeology in Time of Tight Budgets Email

Sunday, 07 April 2013 13:36
Last Updated on Sunday, 07 April 2013 13:56

By: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Photos By: Jennifer Durk and Ryan Washam

Ryan_WashamWhen surveying in the Upper Basin of the Grand Canyon National Park in April 2011, University of Cincinnati faculty and students discovered a previously unknown 17-room subterranean pueblo that likely dates back to the 12th century.

For UC anthropology graduate student Ryan Washam, that find – in which he took part – helped spark his current research in how federal agencies are conducting archaeological and environmental protection and preservation efforts in a time of tight budgets.

Washam, 23, of Florence, Ky., will present a case study of protection and preservation efforts in two locales. He examines such efforts in about one-and-a-half square miles of the Upper Basin of the south rim of the Grand Canyon National Park, which is managed by the U.S. National Park Service. He also examines protection and preservation efforts in about eight square miles of the adjacent Kaibab National Forest managed by the U.S. Forest Service and the Department of Agriculture. 

Read more: Preservation of Southwest Archaeology in Time of Tight Budgets

Archaeological Crusade: US Tries to Save Ancient Treasures Email

Saturday, 30 March 2013 14:28
Last Updated on Saturday, 30 March 2013 14:41


In 2008 a grant for $575,251 was given to the Conservation Foundation of Guatemala to help conserve the pre-classic Maya murals of San Bartolo (one fragment pictured here), conserve the Maya Temple of the Hieroglyphic Staircase and document looting at Yaxha-Nakum-Naranjo National Park.
CREDIT: Image courtesy Wikimedia

Owen Jarus, LiveScience Contributor

TORONTO — The fictional archaeologist Indiana Jones has long enthralled movie audiences, taking on assorted villains in quests to find mythical treasures, with some limited help from the government.

Minus any bullwhips, the real-life U.S. State Department works with other federal departments in a journey to protect important archaeological sites and ancient treasures in the face of conflict, according to professional archaeologists Morag Kersel and Christina Luke in their new book "U.S. Cultural Diplomacy and Archaeology: Soft Power, Hard Heritage" (Routledge, 2012).

Read more: Archaeological Crusade: US Tries to Save Ancient Treasures

Archaeologists in bid to identify 300-year old shipwreck found near Drumbeg Email

Thursday, 28 March 2013 13:48
Last Updated on Thursday, 28 March 2013 13:58


Experts examine the shipwreck (Photo courtesy Daily Record)


SCOTLAND - ARCHAEOLOGISTS are trying to identity a three-century old shipwreck found off the Highlands.

Three cannons, cannonballs, anchors and part of a wooden hull were discovered 15 meters down on the seabed near Drumbeg in Sutherland.

Experts believe it could be the remains of a Dutch vessel that sank more than 300 years ago.

Scallop divers have known of the wreck site in Eddrachillis Bay but archaeologists from WA Coastal and Marine began to examine the ship on behalf of Historic Scotland.

It was confirmed to be of national historical importance and is now one of seven shipwreck sites proposed for the Scottish Government’s new Historic Marine Protected Area status.

Charity WA Coastal and Marine used a diver-based imaging technique to create 3D models of the site and the cannons. The models are being used in the effort to better understand the wreck’s story.

Dr Jonathan Benjamin, of WA Coastal and Marine and the University of Edinburgh, was one of the divers on the four-day survey. He said yesterday: “It is too early to say exactly when this vessel sank or who its crew were but the finds indicate it could be dated from 1650 to 1750. This is a very exciting addition to the heritage assets on Scotland’s seabed’s. There are very few intact wooden vessels of this age.”

The cannons have been identified as being of a type cast in Sweden for use by the Dutch. One theory is that the vessel was owned by the Dutch East India Company, also known as VOS.

They were one of the world’s biggest and most powerful trading companies until collapsing in 1799.

Their vessels regularly sailed around the north of Scotland because of the favorable winds and to avoid the English Channel, particularly at times of war and tensions in Europe.

Courtesy: Daily Record

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Neanderthal birthplace kills archaeology funding Email

Thursday, 28 March 2013 13:26
Last Updated on Thursday, 28 March 2013 13:31

GERMANY - The region is riddled with the remains of all sorts of ancient societies and attracts archaeologists from around the world. 

With Roman settlements along the River Rhine and as the region where Neanderthals were discovered, and thus named after, NRW has long been a source of learning about our predecessors. 

But this could soon die out, as the Der Spiegel news magazine reported on Thursday that the state government plans to cut its funding each year until 2015, when there will be nothing left at all. 

Currently, the state government puts aside €12 million for archaeological projects. Next year this will be slashed to €3.3 million and after that there will be nothing. The cost of a project is split between state and one of the region's two landscape associations – the Landschaftsverbände. They say they will not be able to fund digs alone. 

A new bill drafted by the state government would put the onus of paying for a dig on the person planning to build on land where a find of historical importance is made. 

But legal responsibility ends with the dig - there is nothing to ensure the restoration or examination of what might be found.

This could leave important finds lying in boxes unexamined, Frank Siegmund of the German society for ancient and early history told Der Spiegel. 

He added that without money, archaeologists would not be able to attend digs, and ultimately “people won't be able to work because there will be no money for the necessary equipment.”

The early and ancient history society has started an online petition and hopes to gather enough signatures to halt the law change. The fear is that once NRW makes the cut, other states would follow suit.

The Lower Saxon Harz Mountains are known to rich in dinosaur fossils and on Thursday experts said that they had made their best find in 14 years – half a Europasaurus in a hunk of stone. 

The team from the nearby Dinopark Münchehagen still have funding to use the latest techniques to study the bones further.

Courtesy; The Local

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