Maya Apocalypse 2012: Off The Beaten Path In El Pilar, Belize (PHOTOS)

If you don’t intend to get to El Pilar, you don’t. The Maya site is separated from the highway by miles of ranches and teak plantations, not to mention a fair bit of forest. Even if someone were to wander up the road and onto the appropriate path, there is the off-chance that they might pass through the encroaching lianas and gumbo limbo trees without noticing the ruins peaking out from underneath the soil, which rises and falls in waves. This landscape is the counterpoint to the gleaming temples nearby, a humble place that raises fundamental questions about what exactly tourists in Belize, Guatemala and Mexico are seeing when they visit more popular Maya attractions.”We need to be honest about the Maya and make sure people witness something with a level of veracity,” says Dr. Anabel Ford, the University of Santa Barbara archeologist who discovered the ruins in 1983 and has maintained them amid what she calls a “forest garden” ever since. “I believe you can both show people something and have it be real. Besides, we have plenty of exposed temples already.”Though Dr. Ford is quick to say that El Pilar, on the Belize-Guatemala border, has been excavated — the various tunnels into the mounds bear this out — she is also plainly proud that the site hasn’t been carved out of the forest like the stunning temples at nearby Caracol or Xinuntunich. She insists that leaving the ruins in a more natural state not only protects the basic limestone from the forest acids that stripped sculpted faces clean off the temples of Tikal but also gives visitors a more accurate account of what they might have looked like during Mayan times. Nothing at El Pilar has been reconstructed — common practice elsewhere — because such reconstruction relies on an unjustifiably absolute confidence in what Maya life was like.Read More…
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Maya Apocalypse 2012: Off The Beaten Path In El Pilar, Belize (PHOTOS)


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