Like many people in Belize, especially those of us with an interest in Maya culture, history and archaeology, the news that Dr Jaime Awe was stepping down from his post as the Director of the National Institute of Culture and History’s Institute of Archaeology (IA) came as a surprise.
No one, and we do mean no one, has done as much for archaeology in Belize as Dr Awe. Working tirelessly and passionately, Dr Awe makes Belize's rich Maya heritage come alive for a countless number of students, writers, observers and ordinary citizens.
From the early days of Chaa Creek when it seemed like every time a hole was dug another ancient Maya artefact was unearthed, Jaime was there to ensure that any excavation was conducted professionally and sensitively, and every find was identified, catalogued and preserved.
Fortunately, Dr Awe lives nearby in Cayo, but he would still take time out from a very busy schedule to be where and when he was needed.
As the Archaeological Coordinator of the Tourism Development Project, he worked closely with those of us in eco- tourism who were interested in Maya culture to ensure that the information provided to guests was accurate and delivered within a proper cultural context. Chaa Creek’s Belize Natural History Centre would not be the same without his input.
He’s also conducted major excavations and conservation work at Caracol, Lamanai, Xunantunich, and Altun Ha, introduced many of us to the ceremonial cave of Actun Tunichil Muknal (the famous ATM cave), and has published numerous articles and participated in several important documentaries.
While we’re sad indeed to see Jaime resign, we know that it is for all the right reasons, and are confident that his contributions to his field and to Belize in general will continue well into the future.
As the man himself said while announcing his retirement, “My decision to resign was based solely on my personal desire to do the true things that I am most passionate, and that is research and teaching archaeology. Belize archaeology is not just a job, it’s my life.
“I thank everyone for the support and assistance offered to me during my time as Director of the IA and the additional work I have done, without you, my success would not be possible. To the Belizean community, I urge you to be more involved in the preservation and conservation of the country’s archaeological assets, for it is important to safeguard them for future generations to come.”
Amen to that.
So thank you very much for all your hard work, and for explaining the mysteries of the rich, enigmatic ancient Maya culture to so many of us. You’ve made a real impact on Maya archaeology in Belize, and no doubt will continue to do so.
All the best, and we hope you’ll enjoy this next stage of your career, Dr Awe. We’re looking forward to hearing more about it!