John R. Hale, Ph.D.
John R. Hale, Ph.D.

After a Guatemalan sport diver discovered ancient Maya ruins in the depths of Lake Atitlan, underwater archaeologist John R. Hale, PhD, director of the Liberal Studies program at the University of Louisville, was invited to map the site, located in the Sierra Madre mountains of Guatemala. 

“Working with UofL archaeology majors who also were scuba divers, we were able to show that the site was in fact a 2,000-year-old ceremonial center that the Maya had constructed on a small circular island in the middle of the large lake,” Hale said. “Using newly developed mapping techniques that linked sonar with satellite data, our UofL team was able to reconstruct the original contours of this Maya ‘Atlantis’ and reveal the extraordinary array of altars, standing stones and processional ways which had played a vital role in early Maya ceremony, cult and myth-making.”

A real-life “Indiana Jones,” Hale received a PhD in archaeology from Cambridge University and has performed field work for more than 40 years. He has published works on ancient Scandinavian, Greek and Maya civilizations and technologies.

At this month’s Beer with a Scientist, Hale will recount the exploration of the ancient, underwater site. His talk begins at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 14, at Holsopple Brewing, 8023 Catherine Lane. A 30-minute presentation will be followed by an informal Q&A session.

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Betty Coffman
Betty Coffman is a Health Communications Specialist, working on the Health Sciences Campus with departments in the School of Medicine. A UofL alumna and Louisville native, she served as a writer and editor for local and national publications and as an account services coordinator and copywriter for marketing and design firms prior to joining UofL’s Office of Marketing and Communications.