A unique Maya discovery at Chaa Creek
Archaeological finds are nothing new at Chaa Creek, but a new discovery this week (21 January 2012) is definitely something out of the ordinary – an ancient Maya household was accidentally unearthed in the middle of town near the eco resort’s downtown offices in San Ignacio, Belize.
Larry Waight, Chaa Creek’s marketing administrator said that with over 70 sites recorded within the eco resort’s 365 acre nature reserve, having archaeologists working alongside resort staff is nothing new, but to have office workers rubbing shoulders with researchers wielding shovels and trowels while sifting through mounds of dirt is a first.
“It’s been very interesting coming to work and stopping to chat with archaeologists we know from field work up in the resort while they’re excavating a site just a few doors down from our town office,” Mr Waight said, “It really drives home just how dense the ancient Maya population around the Chaa Creek area was, and how vibrant their culture was here.”
The new find was uncovered on Burns Avenue when workers digging a trench began uncovering fragments, and then entire pots and other artifacts, including several whole ceramic vessels, tools made form deer antlers and obsidian, and a human skeleton.
Mr Waight said the alarm was raised and representatives from Belize’s Institute of Archaeology were able to have a hold put on the works in time for Dr Jaime Awe, the Institute’s director and one of the world foremost Mayanists to assess the scene and have the street blocked off .
Dr Awe said that the site appears to be the household burial chamber of a Maya elder from the late Pre-Classic Period circa 200 BC. The ancient Maya buried their dead under their homes, and the man’s remains were found about two metres below the surface, he said.
“The find is quite significant, for it tells us that there were households in the area of downtown San Ignacio during the first two centuries before Christ. These households were part of the urban population of Cahal Pech. It was a big community so these objects were found in one of the houses that belonged to that ancient city.
“We will continue to excavate in the area for a few more days. Burns Avenue is the main thoroughfare in San Ignacio, so we cannot hold back traffic for ever,” he said.
Mr Waight said that for now, tourists and local people are enjoying the opportunity to see up close the archaeologists working in the town’s centre.
“Our guests at Chaa Creek often remark about how amazed they are to discover just how rich Belize’s Maya heritage is, and how crammed this area is with Maya temples, ancient cities and other sites. And now, to see such important archaeology work carried out in front of our downtown office, especially with all the interest on the Maya and 2012 this year, well, I’ll forgive people if they think we’ve somehow arranged this. But it just proves once again that with Belize’s Maya, fact is better than anything you could make up,” Mr Waight said.
Check out the below photos of the excavation:
What do you think about this discovery? Let us know in the comments below.
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