National Geographic : 1978 Feb
ST SUMMER I had the pleasure of travers ing the Panama Canal aboard the good ship U.S.S. Point Loma, support vessel of the research bathyscaphe Trieste II en route to explore the deep Cayman Trough in the floor of the Caribbean Sea. For years I had looked forward to sailing the canal, and I was not disappointed. As we thread ed a narrow gap through the Continental Divide, I could scarcely leave the bridge. I scanned end less terraces of rock scalloped from the steep slopes. The tall green grass, encouraged by a rainy climate, failed to hide the scars of the awe some engineering project, completed 63 years before, that had claimed so many lives. While the landscape was new and exciting to me, it was also familiar. Your journal has pub lished no fewer than 55 reports on Panama and the canal, beginning in 1889. In 1896 we cov ered in some detail the national debate over the siting of the canal at Panama, rather than Nica ragua, and in 1911 published a description of the work by its chief engineer, Col. George Washington Goethals, U. S. Army. Later, on March 3, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson be stowed the Society's Special Gold Medal upon Colonel Goethals for his great achievement. "The United States," said the President that night, "has made the world very uncomfortable, but it has at least done so by the exercise of ex traordinary dynamic qualities." Indeed, a world ruled largely by Europe's old monarchies and bound to colonial commerce had been startled by the achievements of a free people who had spanned a continent with rails, spilled forth airplanes and automobiles, raised skyscrapers, and now created a masterwork in Panama. But only five months later the world was aflame with war, and the guns of August were blowing away the old order. Now, it seems, it is the turn of the United States and other developed nations to be un comfortable, faced with a Third World showing great political vigor, with the steady ideological contest with Communism, and with keeping economies running as the cost of energy rises. In the case of Panama, the relations of the United States with its Latin-American neighbors and the delicate questions of national defense and sovereignty combine in a charged national debate over the canal. In this issue, the GEO GRAPHIC once again returns to the canal at Pan ama for a look at the people and places behind the headlines. ^*^-^ // GfEOGAPIHIBC THE NATIONALGEOGRAPHICMAGAZINEVOL. 153, NO. 2 COPYRIGHT© 1978 BY NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSOCIETY WASHINGTON,D. C. INTERNATIONAL COPYRIGHTSECURED February 1978 Minoans and Mycenaeans, Sea Kings of the Aegean 142 Behind Homer's epics and Greek myth lies the brilliant reality of Europe'sfirst high civilizations, which flourished on Crete and the Greek mainlandat the height of the Bronze Age. Joseph Judge tells their story, with photographerGordon W. Gahan and artist Lloyd K. Townsend. Our Bald Eagle: Freedom's Symbol Survives 186 Generations to come may yet know that high soaring bird-ifwe learn to protect its dwindling domain. Biologist Thomas C. Dunstan reports on field studies;photographs by Jeff Foott. The Gulf's Workaday Waterway 200 Barge crews, yachtsmen, and nature lovers share a 1,200-mile chain of bays, bayous, rivers, and canals stretchingfrom Florida'spanhandle to the Mexican border. Gordon Young and Charles O'Rear voyage along it. The Living Dead Sea 225 Bitter with salts, steeped in Biblical history, rimmed by modern tensions, the lowest body of water on earth is explored by Harvey Arden and photographerNathan Benn. Brazil's Coast: Golden Beachhead 246 Three booming, productive states provide the money, ideas, and goods that drive a South American economic colossus. Bart McDowell and Nicholas deVore III explore cities that hum to a regular workweek andpulse to Carnival. The Panama Canal Today 279 An engineering miracle that opened a gate between Atlantic and Pacific, Teddy Roosevelt's triumph enters a new era of usefulness-and of controversy. Bart McDowell and George F. Mobley make a passage through the Big Ditch. COVER: An enigmatic smile from the past lights a golden death mask found in a 16th-century B.C. royal grave at Mycenae (followingpages). Photographby Gordon W. Gahan.