Archaeologists from the Belie Institute of Archeology and students from the University of Illinois recently unearthed another century-old Maya settlement. The discovery was made during this year’s summer at a Mennonite farming community in Central Belize. The find included remains of collapsed homes, pieces of ceramic pottery, and lithic artefacts, such as stone tools, which were all dated to the Early Classic Period of the Maya between AD 250 and AD 600. Dr. Melissa Badillo, Director of the Belize Institute of Archaeology, says the research was the first to take place since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. And, according to Badillo, the ancient settlement is among countless others which are often destroyed for agriculture and economic development.
Dr. Melissa Badillo, Director of the Belize Institute of Archaeology: “I think most Belizeans are aware that ancient Maya civilizations once dominated this landscape so anywhere you go across the country you are likely to find the remains of these settlements. Whether north-south east or West and specifically along the River Valley area and on hilltops in those areas because this is the prime land that people would have been using for farming the same way that we do now and they would look for the higher elevations to put their houses and surrounding terrain would be used for agricultural purposes. The importance of what we have within highlighted in this article is that you know today our modern infrastructure requires our modern population requires certain adjustments and it means clearing of land whether for residential purposes, for agricultural purposes, for infrastructure road works for instance and all we are asking then and what this article highlights is the fact that these remains are then likely to be destroyed or damaged with these moderate activities that we have. So the research that was done was looking at these hilltops that were left after bulldozing had taken place all you see are these white patches across the landscape but we can still gather a lot of information on ancient Maya civilization from these remains.”
Dr. Badillo further explained that persons who come across archaeological sites are encouraged to contact the Institute of Archeology to aid in preserving the nation’s cultural history.
Dr. Melissa Badillo, Director of the Belize Institute of Archaeology: “It is critical that developers, contractors, anyone working doing agricultural work if they could contact us whenever they come across these things and put a pause on it because we cannot stop development and we surely do not want to do that but we are just asking stakeholders to work along with us, give us a chance to record the information. In some cases, people are willing to set aside reserved lands or reserve areas on their land and these can be then beneficial to the community, it can serve as an attraction to that area but we would certainly encourage people to refrain from just willfully damaging and destroying cultural property because we can learn so much from it. Our team it’s a very small team we have here at the IA and with very limited resources as is the case with most departments I think across the country but if and whenever you need advice if you come across anything that you would like for us to look at please feel free to reach us in Belmopan our office is here and we are always willing to go out and to look at it and to make plans with our partners to see how we move ahead.”
Badillo added that under the National Institute of Culture and History (NICH) Act the willful destruction of archaeological and cultural material is against the law.