Does this sound like an Indiana Jones adventure or what!
Two archaeologists deep in the jungles of Guatemala are searching the lost empire of El Zotz, an ancient Maya city-state. First, they discover Diablo’s Pyramid, a 45-foot tall royal palace that is 1600 years old.
Then, they spot another building but it’s buried deep in the jungle. Two years later they have it uncovered (ok, that is not-so adventurous but realistic archaeological work), and find beyond the overgrowth some devilish faces, from the National Geographic article:
The sides of the temple are decorated with 5-foot-tall stucco masks showing the face of the sun god changing as he traverses the sky over the course of a day.
One mask is sharklike, likely a reference to the sun rising from the Caribbean in the east, Houston said.
The noonday sun is depicted as an ancient being with crossed eyes who drank blood, and a final series of masks resemble the local jaguars, which awake from their jungle slumbers at dusk.
The Mayans sure were fascinated with power, death, and the sun.
Many Mongolians consider the tomb (of Genghis Khan) an extremely sacred place and believe any desecration of it could trigger a curse that would end the world.
“Using traditional archeological methods would be disrespectful to believers,” Albert Yu-Min Lin says. “The ability to explore in a noninvasive way lets us try to solve this ancient secret without overstepping cultural barriers.
Lin investigates sites with a high-tech tool kit that leverages photographs taken firsthand on the ground, images gathered from satellites and unmanned aircraft, GPS tracks from expeditions, and geophysical instruments. “There are many ways to look under the ground without having to touch it,” he observes. Thermal-imaging systems show what lies below by detecting heat signals and patterns emitted from the Earth. Magnetometry uses the Earth’s magnetic field to pinpoint subterranean clues as microscopic as bacteria in decaying wood. Ground-penetrating radar bounces back images revealing subsurface objects or disturbances. Tiny remote wireless sensors collect data from places no human can go.
“These new approaches could benefit all kinds of projects, from gaining a whole new view of regions like Mongolia to tracking animal migrations to mapping the brain,” notes Lin. “The real trick is synthesizing the vast amounts of information we collect into something that can be understood. My colleagues and I use visualization techniques to sort, relate, and cross-link billions of individual data bits. We program it all into a file that allows us to re-render it into a digital 3-D world.”
Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology, presented by the National Geographic Society, immerses you in the science and history of field archaeology. Walk in the footsteps of beloved film hero Indiana Jones as you embark on this interactive museum adventure.
This unique exhibition features :
A vast and exclusive collection of Indiana Jones film props, models, concept art, and set designs from the Lucasfilm Archives
An interactive tour of legendary sites that sheds light on historical myths such as the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail
A rare chance to see some of the world’s most impressive material remains and real-world artefacts from ancient societies from the collections of the world-renowned Penn Museum and the National Geographic Society archives
A handheld multimedia guide that lets you personalize your exhibit experience
An interactive quest game that let’s children of all ages test their skills and explore the exhibit content in a fun, innovative way
Currently, in Spain but coming to Southern California in October 2012.