Izabal, Gold: Exploitation in Guatemala

In an earlier post we suggested that a few archaeology might be embarrassed if anything were found.  Well, more than a few real scientists have signed a letter describing the attempt by the tabloid newspaper Bild (http://www.bild.de/) to build circulation by funding a fraudulent expedition to Guatemala.  Comments are posted at the end.

See earlier post here…

Statement by the German Mesoamericanist community regarding the BILD- treasure hunt in Guatemala- 7 March 2011 –

http://www.mesoamerika-gesellschaft.de/

Since March 2nd, the German boulevard newspaper BILD has been undertaking an expedition in Guatemala to search for an ancient Maya treasure of “sunken gold plates”. Headed by Joachim Rittstieg, a former school teacher from the town of Borgstedt in Germany, the objective of this expedition isto find a supposedly sunken Maya city and its extensive gold treasures in Lake Izabal, Guatemala.

The activities of the BILD-treasure hunters are scandalous and lack any scientific basis. While the expedition may be just aimed at creating a profitable story, the media coverage in Germany and Guatemala jeopardises years of good cooperation between research institutions of both countries – at the same time damaging the reputation of Germany abroad.

The consequences of the treasure hunt are extremely problematic: The hunt for lost gold will put ancient Maya archaeological remains in danger of being exposed to even more looting. It creates a precedent which may animate internationally operating looters and dealers as well as the local population to search for such treasures. In the past, similar rumours have lead to  looting of a large number of archaeological sites in the Maya area, which caused the destruction of goods of great cultural value. Archaeologists have done intensive educational work to raise local awareness for archaeological remains and explain that ancient Maya sites do not bear treasures of gold and that foreign archaeologists are not stealing goods and riches from the Guatemalan people by bringing finds out of the country illegally.

With respect to the background of the expedition, we would like to point out that Joachim Rittstieg is a self-proclaimed Maya scholar whose statements and methods violate the basic principles of scientific research. Related to the Atlantis myth, his ideas show traits of racism and nationalism and are based on the esoteric notion of a superior nordic-germanic original race that spread over the entire world. It is rather distressing that one of the big over-regional newspapers in Germany is giving these absurd ideas a voice.

Thorough investigations have been carried out at Lake Izabal and in its vicinity in the past decades. There are neither archaeological remains nor written sources from the prehispanic or colonial times that would indicate the existence of an unknown Maya city named “Atlan”, which is a mere invention. Moreover, gold processing techniques in ancient Maya culture did not include the production of incised plates, as described by Rittstieg.

The expedition team allegedly draws these ideas from the Dresden Codex, without taking the past one hundred years of systematic research on the document into account. Numerous publications prove that the hieroglyphic texts in the codex contain religious and calendaric information. “Treasure maps”, as claimed by Rittstieg, are not included in this Maya document – nor in any other. Instead of serious and substantial research results, Rittstieg’s absurd ideas are sold as a “scientific breakthrough”.

From our point of view, it is furthermore highly deplorable how Rittstieg and the BILD-expedition team have dealt with Guatemala’s state institute for cultural heritage (IDAEH). The coverage in BILD suggests that they tried to facilitate the processing of a necessary permit through the German ambassador in Guatemala.

The BILD-search for the “Maya gold” harms the work and reputation of German researchers and the Federal Republic of Germany not only in Guatemala, but also in other countries whose media cover the treasure hunt.

We therefore demand that Joachim Rittstieg and BILD immediately end their fraudulent expedition, which will have unforeseeable consequences in the future.

On behalf of the German-speaking mesoamericanists,

Dipl. Reg.-Wiss. Sarah Albiez, Köln
Prof. Dr. Wiebke Ahrndt, Bremen
Teri Erandeni Arias Ortiz, M.A., Bonn
Anna Biallas, Hamburg
Dr. Wul    Bickenbach, Meerbusch
Dr. Peter Biro, Bonn
Cristina Bredt, M.A., Hamburg
Claudia Bock, M.A., München
Anne Bormann, M.A., Bonn
David Brinkmann, Bonn
Dr. Elke Bujok, München
Prof. Dr. Inés de Castro, Stuttgart
Dr. René Dehnhardt, Bonn
Dr. Kai Delvendahl, Bonn
Thalia Dietrich, Bonn
Christian Egerer, M.A., Bonn
Prof. Dr. Gunther Dietz, Xalapa (Mexiko)
Prof. Dr. Michael Dürr, Berlin
Dr. Lars Frühsorge, Hamburg
Dr. Andreas Fuls, Berlin
Dr. Maria Gaida, Berlin
Franziska Galinski, M.A.
Dr. Frank Garbers, Buxtehude
Dr. Barbara Göbel, Berlin
Peggy Goede, M.A., Berlin
Dr. Christopher M. Götz, Mérida (Mexiko)
Philip Gondecki, M.A., Bonn
Matthias Gorissen, M.A, Hannover
Dr. Daniel Graña-Behrens, Bonn
Harald Grauer, M.A., Bonn
Prof. Dr. Nikolai Grube, Bonn
Iris Gruber-Beerfeltz, Dipl.-Verw.wiss., M.A., Berlin
Dr. Antje Gunsenheimer, Bonn
Sven Gronemeyer, M.A., Bonn
Oliver Hans, Bonn
Dr. Claudine Hartau, Hamburg
Dr. Jürgen Heck, Sprockhövel
Matthias Heckel, M.A., Hamburg
Dr. Meike Heckt, Buxtehude
Dipl.Ing. TH Hermann J. Hendrich, Graz
Armin Hinz, M.A., Hamburg
Simon Hirzel, Bonn

Interdisziplinäre Arbeitsgruppe Mayaforschung, Graz
Annette Kern, Hamburg
Stephanie Kirsch, Bonn
Christian Klingler, M.A., Bonn
Prof. Dr. Ulrich Köhler, Freiburg
Prof. Dr. Viola König, Berlin
Roswitha Koenitz, M.A., Berlin
Katrin Kopka, Bonn
Karl Kramer, Hamburg
Dr. des. Hans Jürgen Kremer, Mönchengladbach
Guido Krempel, Bonn
Dr. Peter Kroefges, San Luis Potosí (Mexiko)
Felix Kupprat, Bonn
Dr. Sabine Lang, Christiansholm
Catherine Letcher Lazo, M.A., Bonn
Monique Lorberg M.A., Hamburg
Susen Lucke, Bonn
Hans Magis, Bonn
Mesoamerika-Gesellschaft Hamburg e.V.
Dr. Helga-Maria Miram, Hochdonn
Andrea Nicklisch, M.A., Berlin
Prof. Dr. Karoline Noack, Bonn
Dr. Kerstin Nowack, Bonn
Prof. Dr. Anika Oettler, Marburg
Dr. Iken Paap, Berlin
Carlos Pallan, M.A., Bonn
Karin Philipp, Bonn
Karin Pläschke, M.A., Hamburg
Christian Prager, M.A., Bonn
Prof. Dr. Hanns J. Prem, Bonn/Gen
Proyecto Arqueológico Uxul, Bonn
Jürgen Putz, Köln
Karla Ramirez Rosas, M.A., Bonn
Prof. Dr. Berthold Riese, Guangzhou, VR China
Vanessa Rodens, M.A., Guatemala/Bonn
Stephan Rohde, Troisdorf Bergheim/Bonn
Dr. Elke Ruhnau, Berlin
Andrea Ruf, M.A., Berlin
Lic. phil. Werner Rutishauser, Schahausen
Dr. Frauke Sachse, Bonn
Thomas Sambale, M.A., Bonn
Prof. Dr. Bernd Schmelz, Hamburg
Franziska Sedlak, Bonn
Prof. Dr. Ortwin Smailus, Hamburg
Wolfram Sperber, M.A., Mainz
Susanne Spieker M.A., Hamburg
Katja Christiane Stengert, M.A., Hamburg
Tobias Tenhaef, M.A., Bonn
Dr. Stefanie Teufel, Köln
Prof.Dr. Ursula Thiemer-Sachse, Potsdam
Mirko Uhlig, M.A., Bonn

Dr. Mark Van Stone, Ph.D., G.F., Professor of Art History, Chula Vista, CA
Ulrich Verhülsdonk, M.A., Köln
Sebastian Schwarz, Bonn
Dr. Jennifer von Schwerin, Bonn
Elisabeth Wagner, M.A., Bonn
Dr. Robert Wald, PhD., Austin, TX
Dr. Estella Weiss-Krejci Univ.-Doz., Wien
Christine Winter de Velarde, Dipl.-Übersetzerin, Bonn
Dipl.-Inf. Ulrich Wölfel, M.A., Bonn
Anna Wornowski, M.A., Bonn
Dipl.-Ing. Andreas Wüstefeld, Hamburg
Eriko Yamasaki, M.A., Bonn
Christina Zander, M.A. Bonn
Claudia Zehrt, M.A., London
Werner Zien, Bonn
Melanie Zimmermann, Bonn
Dr. Patricia Zuckerhut, Wien

Submitted on 2011/03/11 at 07:13

Portugal agree with the Statement of German Mesoamericanist community.
Thanks German Mesoamericanist community for mark a position and fight for science and memory of those who dedicated their lives to the study of the Dresden Codex.Best regards

Miguel Pimenta-Silva
akimiguel@gmail.com

i would like to ask “was ist denn die Angst leute?” what do you fear? can this be like the Cold War History beetween all the cientifics against the URSS soldier Yuri Knorozov? Eric Thompson denied every word from Knorozov until his own death and at the end Knorozov was right, without being a “renamed cientific of the occidental world”, Guess what? he made what nobody could in 100 Years. Can it be, that because the US Navy was there on the 50’s, that the US Navy stole the gold from Izabal lake? like the problem beetween “the Odyssey” and the silver coins in the coast of Spain? and that the US Navy wants to keep it secret? what if a city could be found? and if this man finds nothing, dont you all think it is its own problem? das es painlich für ihn und nur ihn  wäre? but if he finds the gold, then the whole community would like to be in his shoes, and that, that can not be tolerated by “cientifics”, because it would be a round 2 for someone like Knorozov.  History is discovered  on the fields and not in the books. fcodepaularuiz@yahoo.com

I think the issue is one of having a gold rush of tomb robbers on the loose. -carlos

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About carlos

I'm a curious person, of reasonable intellect, "on the beach" (retired) and enjoying my interest in anthropology, language, civil rights, and a few other areas. I've been a hippie/student/aerospace tech writer in the '60s, a witness to the Portuguese revolution in the ‘70s, a defense test engineer and witness to the Guatemalan genocide in the '80s, and a network engineer for an ISP in the '90s. Now I’m a student and commentator until my time is up. I've spent time under the spell of the Mesoamerican pyramids and the sweet sound of the Portuguese language. I've lived in Europe, traveled in Brazil, Central America, Iceland, New Zealand, and other places. My preferred mode of travel is with a backpack and I eat (almost) anything local. Somehow, many of the countries I have been to have had civil unrest (for which I was not responsible). I'm open to correspond with anyone who might share my liberal, humanist interests. I live in San Buenaventura, California.
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3 Responses to Izabal, Gold: Exploitation in Guatemala

  1. fcodepaularuiz@yahoo.com says:

    i would like to ask “was ist denn die Angst leute?” what do you fear? can this be like the Cold War History beetween all the cientifics against the URSS soldier Yuri Knorozov? Eric Thompson denied every word from Knorozov until his own death and at the end Knorozov was right, without being a “renamed cientific of the occidental world”, Guess what? he made what nobody could in 100 Years. Can it be, that because the US Navy was there on the 50’s, that the US Navy stole the gold from Izabal lake? like the problem beetween “the Odyssey” and the silver coins in the coast of Spain? and that the US Navy wants to keep it secret? what if a city could be found? and if this man finds nothing, dont you all think it is its own problem? das es painlich für ihn und nur ihn wäre? but if he finds the gold, then the whole community would like to be in his shoes, and that, that can not be tolerated by “cientifics”, because it would be a round 2 for someone like Knorozov. History is discovered on the fields and not in the books.

  2. Miguel Pimenta-Silva says:

    Portugal agree with the Statement of German Mesoamericanist community.
    Thanks German Mesoamericanist community for mark a position and fight for science and memory of those who dedicated their lives to the study of the Dresden Codex.

    Best regards

Comments are closed.