LSU Works to Preserve Underwater Maya Sites in Belize
LSU archaeologists are working with the Belizean government and the Archaeological Institute of America, or AIA, to protect the only known ancient Maya sites with wooden architecture by involving native communities in archaeological tourism. With a site preservation grant through AIA, Heather McKillop, the Doris Z. Stone Professor of Latin American Studies in LSU's Department of Geography & Anthropology, along with doctoral candidate Cory Sills, are raising awareness of sites in Paynes Creek National Park, Belize, by opening exhibits, hosting workshops and talks.
"The success of the underwater Maya archaeological tourism project depends on the interest and input of the local communities to maintain and develop in ways that work for them," said McKillop. "People around the world know about the underwater Maya sites in southern Belize, so we are excited to be able to give something back to the people in the local communities so they can incorporate our archaeological research into sustainable archaeological tourism."
The remarkable preservation of the Paynes Creek sites was due to sea-level rise that submerged wooden buildings below the seafloor. The Paynes Creek sites provide a unique record of the wooden structures that likely dominated ancient cities as in modern villages of indigenous Maya.
McKillop is coordinating the project with the Belize government Institute of Archaeology, along with the Toledo Institute for Development and Environment, or TIDE, which co-manages the Paynes Creek National Park with the government. Read more about the project at http://www.archaeological.org/news/currentprojects/8973.