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TOPIC: Cradle of Maya Civilization Gets Rescue Plan

Cradle of Maya Civilization Gets Rescue Plan 7 years 3 months ago #5524

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Cradle of Maya Civilization Gets Rescue Plan

The new Archaeological Development Plan for Guatemala's Mirador Cultural and Natural System, home to the largest Pre-Classic Maya center, has been unveiled.

GUATEMALA - In time for the celebration of the Year of the Maya in 2012, the Global Heritage Fund (GHF), a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation and development of archaeological sites in developing countries, has officially unveiled the long-awaited Archaeological Development Plan for the Mirador Cultural and Natural System. This system is an area in Guatemala that contains some of the world's largest pyramids, including La Danta, the world's largest pyramid by volume, and the large Pre-Classic Maya complex that is touted today by many archaeologists as the birthplace, or cradle, of Maya civilization in Mesoamerica.

Unveiled on December 8th at Guatemala’s National Palace of Culture before an audience of current and past government officials, diplomats, international agencies and foundations, partners, friends and others, the plan provides a framework for continuing archaeological research and preservation of the critical area over the next 15 years. It is designed to conserve the cultural remains and their surrounding natural environment, including provisions to guide tourism development that will be sustainable, protective, and generate direct economic benefits to the indigenous communities. Development of the plan took two years of collaboration with PACUNAM (Fundación Patrimonio Cultural y Natural Maya), FARES (Foundation for Anthropological Research and Environmental Studies) and the Guatemalan government.
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The Mirador Cultural and Natural System encompasses 810,000 acres located in the critical Maya Biosphere of northern Guatemala, an area that has been threatened on a massive scale by deforestation through slash-and-burn agriculture and logging, as well as looting and drug trafficking. It contains some of the largest and oldest ancient Maya cities, including El Mirador, which features the world's largest pyramid by volume (see graphical comparison to ancient Tikal, above), Nakbe, Tintal, Wakna and Xulnal, all linked by an impressive causeway system. The area is recognized by scholars and scientists as a well-spring of archaeological treasures that will help them and the world understand the first great state centers of Maya civilization, most of which still remain enshrouded in the jungles of the endangered Maya Biosphere. Reports the GHF, "the discoveries that still wait to be unearthed and the knowledge to be uncovered is invaluable". But, GHF adds, "equally invaluable is the forest environment in which these Pre-Classic Maya cities are situated. These resources..........are located in one of the largest remaining areas of primary forest in Central America. Extensive habitat provides a rich diversity of flora and fauna including the highest concentration of jaguars in the world as well as over 180 bird species. As a result, archaeological research in the area is accompanied by a wide range of scientific research from botany to entomology and ornithology."

Thus far, conservation efforts have focused on some of Mirador's most important ancient structures, including the La Danta and El Tigre pyramids and the Central Acropolis, a massive complex that functioned as the cultural center. El Mirador, the largest of the cities, is now open to the public with newly installed tourism signage. Surrounding communities have already benefitted with the creation of jobs for the local population, including 60 certified guides and 90 park rangers, as well as hundreds of additional jobs related to development of the tourism infrastructure through the Mirador Guide Association, local restaurants, tour operators and lodging.

The new Archaeological Development Plan will provide an ongoing framework for the work to continue on a sustainable basis, but there is much more to do and the challenges ahead are enormous. Officials and experts familiar with the situation have voiced a warning. Said Dr. Richard Hansen, who is Senior Scientist with the Institute for Mesoamerican Research in the Department of Anthropology at Idaho State University, and Director of the Mirador Basin Project:

"We're looking at a system here, we're looking at migration routes of animals and species, and trees and pollen sequences, and all of these things make the system articulate as an integrated, natural system. And we have these ancient cities that will let us be the economic justification for that conservation......The destruction by fire of this area is unprecedented. It is an environmental catastrophe........We're up against a window of time. In five, ten years there will be no chance to save this."

More detailed information about the unveiling of the Archaeological Development Plan is published in the GHF article, Mirador Master Plan Completed; Will be Unveiled at Guatemala’s National Palace of Culture, Heritage on the Wire, December 5, 2011.

Courtesy Popular Archaeology
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Last Edit: 7 years 3 months ago by wreckdiver.
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