The New Maya Gold Rush
A real life Indiana Jones saga is unfolding as scientists, using information recently deciphered from the Maya Dresden Codex, say they have discovered where eight tons of long lost gold lay at the bottom of a Guatemalan lake.
According to Joachim Rittsteig, an author and Maya writing expert, some 2,156 golden tablets lay among the ancient city of Atlan, which is said to have sunk into Lake Izabal after an earthquake in 666 BC.
According to the German newspaper Bild, who are sponsoring the expedition, Rittsteig and a group of scientists and journalists recently left Germany on a mission to discover the lost treasure.
“The Dresden Codex leads to a giant treasure of eight tons of pure gold,” Rittsteig said, adding that the Codex “talks about the Maya capital of Atlan, which was ruined by an earthquake on October 30th in the year 666 BC. In this city, they kept 2,156 gold tablets on which the Maya recorded their laws.”
Prof Rittsteig is a professor emeritus at Dresden University who spent 40 years studying Maya texts and is the author of various publications about the Maya culture.
The treasure sank, along with the city, into the waters of Lake Izabal, located in eastern Guatemala. Rittsteig claims to have found the remains on radar images taken in the area.
He calculates that “just the gold in the tablets is estimated to be currently worth up to 211 million euros (290 million dollars).”
The Dresden Codex, dating from 1250 AD and recorded by priestly Maya scribes, is one of the four major documents that survived Spanish colonial attempts to wipe out all records of the Maya civilisation. It has been housed by the Saxon State Library in East Germany for the last 272 years.
It was discovered in 1739 in Vienna as part of a wealthy man’s private collection. Although it was never revealed how he came to have it in his possession, it is widely accepted as authentic, and he donated it to the Dresden library, where it is housed under bullet-proof glass.
Rittsteig has dedicated most of his entire life to decoding the codex, which is composed of 74 pages, 3.56 meters long with 74 distinct hieroglyphics.
Here in Belize, the Dresden Codex plays a pivotal role in our understanding of the Maya of Belize, containing much of what is known of Maya culture, including their understanding of astrology, medicine and other facets of life. Of more recent interest is the Codex’s record of the upcoming Winter Solstice of December 21 2012, which is the subject of intense speculation and several books and films, including the Hollywood blockbuster 2012.
Maya archeology in Belize continues to reveal more insights into this fascinating, enigmatic culture, and discoveries at sites such as the huge metropolis of Caracol, in Belize’s Chiquibul National Forest promise to keep adding to our knowledge of ancient Maya civilisation and cosmology.
Stay tuned for more fascinating insights into the Maya of Belize as the huge in the Heartland of the Maya grow near.
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