• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.
A retired German math teacher has spurred a national hubbub in Guatemala by claiming to have discovered an ancient underwater city laden with treasure.
Instead of being dismissed, Mr. Rittstieg has garnered a lot of interest. Guatemalan newspapers called him a “German scientist” and followed his expedition with enthusiasm.
Rittstieg arrived with a reporting team and a scuba diver sent by a popular German tabloid.
The buzz over Rittstieg is “very strange,” says Oswaldo Chinchilla, a Guatemalan archaeology professor and Mayan museum curator. “This is complete fantasy,” he says.
Meanwhile, a group of German Mesoamerican scholars called Rittstieg’s claims “absurd” and damaging to Germany’s reputation.
Rittstieg says he can’t help the fact that he found the city and the experts didn’t. He says the ancient Dresden Codex and Mayan priests guided him, and claims the US Navy helped detect the exact location. “They say it cannot be. But I have the basic information now,” says Rittstieg, who is seeking funding for an excavation.