Mr. and Mrs. Indiana Jones....?? John and Connie Coppage??

News groups such as Mesoamerica Archaeology on the Internet have been inundated in the last few weeks with commercials for the Mr. and Mrs. Indiana Jones of Belize - John and Connie Coppage. The Coppages apparently are promoting a newsletter for their Institute of Maya Antiquities. The Coppages have come under fire for their self promotion, confrontational behaviour, loose approach to archaeology and bizarre stories about their adventures.

In the spring of 1995, the Coppages claimed to discover an unlooted Maya ruin in the Toledo area. They immediately publicized their "find". The Department of Archaeology said the ruin had been registered seven years before. The Department of Archaeology said at the time that the Coppages had no qualifications as archaeologists. In correspondence with sceptical readers on the news groups, the Coppages refer to a number of publications, including The San Pedro Sun as support for their tales. The San Pedro Sun did publish some of their letters during the Toledo episode, but this by no means constitutes an endorsement of the Coppages' activities.

In the Internet releases, the Coppages claim that another ruin had been discovered and kept secret by an American archaeologist and other plotters. The ruin, which supposedly had a series of tunnels under a pyramid, was being systematically looted by the National Geographic Society and the "Raleigh Group" from England. Wild claims are made that "tapestries" (tapestries????) wooden furniture and pots were being taken from the ruin by British military helicopters. The helicopters were also used to ferry people to and from the site.

The couple's story became more bizarre, with accusations of being stranded in the jungle by their guide(s), of planted evidence and a set-up arrest, John Coppage being beaten, etc. The Coppages fled Belize last summer to avoid appearing in court to answer to charges of being in possession of ammunition.

Prior to the incident in Toledo, John Coppage claimed to have run guns to Cuba when he was a teenager, found Spanish silver in the jungle (the Coppage's wedding rings are supposedly made of the silver), been kidnapped in Guatemala and discovered a "glowing" Maya stone (claimed to be a "capstone" of a Maya pyramid) he smuggled out of Belize. He claims the stone was subsequently "broken up" by U.S. Customs after Coppage gave it to them to be returned to Belize. Coppage further claims that documents relating to the stone are censored for reasons of "national security" (of the United States).

San Pedro Sun

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