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Jun 30, 2010

Digging up the facts on Status and Power in Ancient Maya Society

This past Monday, the Supreme Court affirmed communal land tenure to the Mayas living in southern Belize. That settles the issue of property rights, but how did the Mayas really govern? Insight to that question will hopefully be found at a symposium that opened this morning at the San Ignacio Resort Hotel. It’s the eight of its kind and this year, the experts will be studying the Status and Power in the Ancient Maya Society. News Five’s Delahnie Bain found out that thirty papers will be presented for discussion. Here’s her report.

Delahnie Bain, Reporting

Archaeology enthusiasts are discussing the many intricacies of Belize’s ancient Maya societies. Approximately thirty speakers are presenting on research projects at the eighth annual Archaeology Symposium, which is being held in Belmopan. This year the focus is on Status and Power in Ancient Maya society.

Dr. Jaime Awe, Director, Institute of Archaeology

“We think that it’s an exciting topic because we often want to understand how is it that ancient societies and ancient cultures govern themselves. What were the differences between the people who ruled and those who were ruled? So these are some of the themes that we will be examining at this year’s symposium.”

lisa lucero

Some ancient Maya communities are now tourist attractions such as Alton, Cahal Pech and the like. But along with the well known sites, the presentations at the symposium will include newly discovered locations. One of those is in the Cara Blanca area and was discovered in an ongoing dive expedition.

Lisa Lucero, Professor of Anthropology, University of Illinois

“What we did find was a massive underwater cave, probably as far as we know it’s the largest in Belize underwater. It starts at thirty meters below surface and goes to about sixty meters or basically almost two hundred feet; forty meters wide, eighty meters deep minimum and we also found geological beds with mega fossils of perhaps mastodons and mammoths. They’re no longer bone, they’re stone now so they’re fossils. We found huge crystal vanes, crystals the size of soccer balls.”

Another area currently being studied for artifacts is Belize’s first capital, St. George’s Caye.

Jim Garber

Jim Garber, Professor, Texas State University

“We’re looking at various aspects of the battle and the old houses on the settlement. We’re doing a lot of research on the old cemetery; it’s the oldest English European cemetery in the country. We wanna shed some light on the early history of Belize as a nation and the birth place of Belize was out on that caye. Many of the records were destroyed by hurricanes and fires and just through time and so we’re gonna have to piece it together by what information we do have in the archives and archeology by digging it up.”

Jaime Awe

“Some papers for instance will try to understand and explain how is it that people become rulers, when does this happen and why does this happen. Other papers will also talk about what happened when this government eventually fails around the time of the collapse of the Mayan civilization. We will be seeing papers on Caracol and this new technology to survey sites that are completely under jungle cover today, there will be papers being done on some new work that’s being done in the Toledo district especially at a site called Uxbenka.”

Director of the Institute of Archaeology, Dr. Jaime Awe, told us how the information gathered at the symposium is used.

Dr. Jaime Awe

jaime awe

“One of the things we do is we publish a book on the papers that are presented here. This information is then used by teachers at elementary schools, at high schools, at University of Belize, at Galen University to teach young Belizeans about the prehistoric times of Belize. The information that comes out from these symposiums provide all of us with better knowledge of the Belizean past. We’re still learning as we go along about the first people who made Belize their home.”

Today’s session saw the attendance of persons from the tourism industry, students, archaeologists and the general public. Delahnie Bain for News Five.

The symposium winds down on Friday.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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15 Responses for “Digging up the facts on Status and Power in Ancient Maya Society”

  1. pirate says:

    Awe prefer the dead Mayas over the living Maya as the dead ones is what makes his livelihood possible. He is no more that a fabricated psuedo intellectual

  2. sdsgf says:


  3. sdsgf says:

    WHERE ARE THE MAYANS????????????????????????????

  4. Proud Belizean says:

    Haha! Very funny, pirate! He indeed presented a case that the Maya left and came back to Belize later which would go against them regarding land tenure.

  5. Belize It says:

    Pirate, why the attack? Isn’t it true that a people must know their past before they can understand the present and plan for the future? Marcus Garvey is brought to mind. He said “Back to Africa!” That statement is often misinterpreted. Instead a literal call for people to move back to Africa, it was for an intellectual migration back to the roots of the African mindset. Africans were lost in the American system, with no connection to their culture they had no guidance in the present.

    Jaime Awe’s study of the ancient Maya allows for, not only the current Maya but also for the policy makers of today to more fully understand the Mayan claim to land. Awe points out that Indeed the Maya have been here for centuries and that they had a sprawling successful kingdom, decades perhaps centuries before the colonizers came along. In that sense, they have a substantial claim to the land, and have the option of using it in their own cultural context.

    So for you, to refer to Awe as a fabricated pseudo intellectual is backwards at best. Remember, in order to reap fruit we must understand the tree from it’s roots on up.

  6. maddyvandijk says:

    Pirate, only recently a few Belizeans started taking interest into becoming professional future archaeologists, without the people you see above sadly no one in the world would have known anything about our history, we would have nothing to be proud of.

    I hope that in the close future more mayan and more creole will take over the post of the Americans posted above, till then we can learn from them.

  7. macal rivera says:

    where are the mayas???????

    The mayas were in court fighting over land!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Student says:

    To maddyvandijk : Or not take OVER, but work WITH. I think we should welcome anyone from anywhere in the world who has a passionate interest in studying the Maya.

    Thanks for noting that without some of those people we wouldn’t know what we know today.

    Regardless of nationality, and skin color, why can’t we just praise people for their talents, passions and contributions? Have we become such a hardened, bitter society that we just have to attack, attack, attack all the time?

  9. fernando vega mora says:

    Because of the historic origine and common grow, the Mayan culture may be a valuable factor of undestanding in Central America. Furthermore, on the economic and employment aspects of today situation, by some communities in Mexico, a program for the cleaning and conservation of arqueological zones aims at providing a modest salary for those unemployed; that measure also helps the tourism sector of the economy.

  10. Friend says:

    I am a Mayan and wheather u study acheology in Canada, US or any part of the world it is on full of crap ok. think about it nobody can go an learn a language of the past in some other parts of the world. that is bs.

    Only the decendants of the same people can tell you about them ok. So i dont believe none of thesefabricated pseudo intellectualls

  11. Bato Perdomo says:

    Student – Attack, attack, attack consistently and perpetually!!!!! Can’t you see that these people are graduates of …….. University and mentality? No further comment necessary for ungrateful and “maximum” egotistically ingraned personalities.

  12. maddyvandijk says:

    Student, thanks for supporting what those people are doing for Belize, the history of the mayan should be celebrated not only by the mayan but by the entire belize.

    Belizeans should not be afraid to learn from others what we do not, or incapable of learning for ourselves.

  13. Student says:

    Dear Friend:

    An American (I’m sorry) named David Stuart,from the University of Texas in Austin made major advancements in helping us to read Maya hieroglyphs. Without his work, we would know so little of the stories about the ancient Maya.
    Stuart and others like him have devoted their lives to this work.
    I really encourage you to check out this documentary called, “Cracking the Code.” Really helped me to appreciate the contributions of these scholars. It might help you too.

    You said in your comment: “think about it nobody can go an learn a language of the past in some other parts of the world. that is bs. ”

    No, it is not bs. There’s a pattern to these ancient codes, like the hieroglyphs in Egypt (check out the story of the Rosetta Stone). And it’s taken years of hard work to get it right. Lots of archaelogists have made errors, and as a Maya, you should feel proud that many of them studying the Maya have made great headway with the help of modern Mayan communities.

  14. solomon write says:

    it just like angel cal wrote in his yellow book, “there is no longer real mayan blood”.
    since when have these moneylovers tested DNA and how scientifically are they sure there is no real Mayan blood. i am sure i have it since i can trace my lineage to the chan, cocom, tzul chi, Kau-ich, most important my royalty as many mayan rulers were of this clan.

    Let the Mayas be heard, lets show we are the rightful owners of the JEWEL OF OURS.
    “Arise ye children of the Mayan clan, let despots flee”
    Loui Young please be realistic. accept that your baymen clan forced our people out just like the garifuna. but our maya brother of south went around and came back. they they then the entire south and peten area so they knew how to return.
    Konesh masewal – a tu me ne toneh yax beyo-no’.

  15. Xion says:

    i watched 2012. nice to have seen four areas in the cayo district exposed in the movie.
    but, why the producer state, somewher in mexico, mention chichen itza site, California areas,
    hell we have our places name san ignacio, caracolmaya site, it is in BELIZE. where is awe and our so called NICH. lets give sense to our existence. if 2012 is about the mayan calendar, why not have our mayas be the characters in it? a white man comes to extort with a cross, hell no way that is not the real fact. are we accepting it just like the gang report by that persona none grata? common Jaime. you are making money on my name. on my Masewal tribe. be positive, send protect our sites big or small, answer to those who misuse and abuse of our history and people.

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