01 - 02 JANVIER 2011



 - BELIZE - Cara Blanca  Cara Blanca's sacred Maya pools, hidden in the warm hills of Belize, still beckon. Cobalt blue waters, draped vines and beads of sweat are what you remember from your first visit to these forest cenotes, as the pools are known.  In fact, the continuing story of exploration at the pools in the northwestern forest of tropical Belize, offers more than warm thoughts. Archaeology doesn't happen overnight and the progress at Cara Blanca has raised more questions so far than answers, says archaeologist Lisa Lucero of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who heads exploration efforts at the pools, located a few miles from the Maya ruin of Yalbac - The Classic Maya are famed for the pyramid-topped cities, which were abandoned throughout Central America sometime around 900 A.D. Xibalba (Shee-BAL-buh), the underworld where various evil spirits and the rain god, Chac, could be found, was part of their mythology, a particularly important place for people dependent on rain to water their crops. "Cenotes were seen as an opening into the underworld by the Classic Maya," Lucero says. Cenotes at sites such as Mexico's Chichen Itza have yielded sacrificial objects, human bones and the famed "Maya Blue" pigment in sediment layers explored by scholars for a century -In the meantime, archaeology at the site has not stood still. "It looks more and more like the Maya intensified ritual activities at the end," Lucero says, around 800-900 A.D., when a long-term drought is thought to have contributed to the collapse of the society at Yalbac and surrounding centers. Sacrifices might have picked up at the pools, she says, "to beg the gods to bring forth rain and to end the long drought. The majority of ceramics date to (that era), and most are water jars!" The slash-and-burn milpa farming of the Maya, still practiced today throughout Central America, heavily depends on rainfall during a long rainy season that typically starts in May. Although the Maya continued farming at nearby sites in Belize at least until the 1500's, Lucero and other archaeologists suspect that when the sacrifices and ceremonies at pyramid temples no longer delivered the rain, the common farmers walked away from a culture that had lasted for centuries.      


 - FRANCE -    La Ciotat  - La construction de "l'André-Malraux" a débuté à La Ciotat. Le bateau, qui devrait être livré fin 2011, donnera un nouveau souffle à l'archéologie sous-marine- Sept ans après le désarmement de son navire historique, l'Archéonaute, le département des recherches archéologiques subaquatiques et sous-marines du ministère de la Culture (Drassm) va pouvoir reprendre la mer. Son nouveau vaisseau amiral, l'André-Malraux, devrait, en effet, lui être livré d'ici un an, pour une mise en service effective au printemps 2012. Sa construction a débuté fin août au chantier H2X, à La Ciotat, selon les plans du cabinet d'architecture navale marseillais André Mauric, qui travaille sur ce projet depuis plus de 4 ans. "Il s'agira du premier et du seul navire au monde conçu spécialement pour les besoins de l'archéologie sous-marine", se félicite Michel L'Hour, directeur du Drassm, qui n'a pas ménagé sa peine pour convaincre ses ministres de tutelle successifs, Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, Christine Albanel puis Frédéric Mitterrand, d'engager près de 9 millions d'euros pour construire l'André-Malraux. Le nom de baptême du futur navire ne doit rien au hasard. Ministre de la Culture du général de Gaulle de 1959 à 1969, André Malraux est, en effet, à l'origine de la création du Drassm, en 1966, et de la mise en service du tout premier navire de prospection archéologique, l'Archéonaute, qui a servi de support de plongée aux archéologues sous-marins près de quatre décennies durant.  Le nombre d'épaves immergées dans les eaux de France métropolitaine est en effet estimé entre 15 et 20 000. De quoi épuiser plusieurs générations d'archéologues sous-marins. Surtout qu'en tenant compte du périmètre Unesco, le gisement français ne se limiterait plus à 15 ou 20 000 épaves potentielles, mais à 150 ou 200 000 sites archéologiques immergés dans toutes les mers et océans de la planète.




- INDE  Bijapur - Reckless urbanisation, official apathy, people’s ignorance of history and their lack of respect for it has pushed monuments of historical and architectural importance built during the period of Adil Shahi and Kalyani Chalukyas to the brink of extinction in Bijapur. The Narasimha Temple, Taj Bawadi, Shikander Shah Tomb and  Khedda Masjid have already been encroached upon. Now, land grabbers are eyeing monuments like Bhuvi Masjid, Kishore Khan Tomb, Kamarki Gumbaz and Farooq Mahal, which are situated in the City’s prime areas. The rise in incidents of encroachment of Archeological sites is more worrisome in the light of the indifferent attitude of the officials towards the State’s cultural wealth. The landgrab involving sites of historical significance for commercial purposes is snowballing into a controversy, but sadly by the time district administration wakes up, many of the monuments would have vanished forever.


 - ROUMANIE  - Dig Opportunities and Scholarships Available for Volunteers The Biblical Archaeology Society is pleased to announce the publication of the Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) Dig Issue (January/February 2011), which features a listing of excavation projects that are looking for volunteers for the upcoming 2011 season. Although an archaeological dig may not have all the glitz and glamour of a TV police drama, the clues you’ll gather and the evidence you’ll examine will have a real-life impact on our understanding of ancient cultures. In “DSI: Dig Site Investigation,” BAR’s annual guide to excavations will help volunteers find the dig that’s right for them. Extensive information on these volunteer opportunities and more can also be found online at