Democratic Underground Latest Greatest Lobby Journals Search Options Help Login
Google

An Ancient Watery Underworld

Printer-friendly format Printer-friendly format
Printer-friendly format Email this thread to a friend
Printer-friendly format Bookmark this thread
Home » Discuss » DU Groups » Science & Skepticism » Anthropology Group Donate to DU
 
Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-26-11 01:44 AM
Original message
An Ancient Watery Underworld
May 25, 2011, 11:40 am
An Ancient Watery Underworld
By LISA J. LUCERO



A. Kinkella
The view from one of the deepest known pools at Cara Blanca, Belize.


Lisa J. Lucero, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, recently completed an expedition to central Belize to study ancient Maya underwater offerings.

On Oct. 24, 2010, Hurricane Richard transformed the landscape where I conduct archaeology in central Belize. Huge swaths of the tropical forest were flattened. But damage to ancient Maya sites was surprisingly minimal. Then, in mid-April, there were concerns about wildfires as the dry season wore on, turning dead vegetation into a tinderbox waiting for a spark. I arrived in Belize for the diving expedition at Cara Blanca in early May, dreading the effects of the enormous fires. There was another landscape transformation, but again the ancient sites remained largely undamaged.

How could these ancient buildings withstand such forces of nature? They have survived many natural challenges since the Maya abandoned them by A.D. 900. This got me thinking about resiliency regarding not the sites, but the Maya.

Resiliency is important for scientists too. The original purpose of the Cara Blanca diving expedition was to explore for ancient Maya offerings 200 feet underwater in one of the thousands of caves and water bodies thought to be portals to the underworld, Xibalba. We wanted to determine if the Maya intensified rituals in an attempt to get the gods to bring an end to a series of droughts that struck the Maya area between A.D. 800 and 900. But the large trees that have been falling for hundreds of years, the extreme darkness and deep bottom silt precluded that, at least for now.

As one door closes, another opens into a world of extinct megafauna.

More:
http://scientistatwork.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/05/25/an-...

Refresh | 0 Recommendations Printer Friendly | Permalink | Reply | Top

Home » Discuss » DU Groups » Science & Skepticism » Anthropology Group Donate to DU

Powered by DCForum+ Version 1.1 Copyright 1997-2002 DCScripts.com
Software has been extensively modified by the DU administrators


Important Notices: By participating on this discussion board, visitors agree to abide by the rules outlined on our Rules page. Messages posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums are the opinions of the individuals who post them, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Democratic Underground, LLC.

Home  |  Discussion Forums  |  Journals |  Store  |  Donate

About DU  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy

Got a message for Democratic Underground? Click here to send us a message.

© 2001 - 2011 Democratic Underground, LLC