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Jul 2, 2008

Symposium looks at complexities of the Mayas

Story PictureThe Institute of Archaeology has as its motto, “Preserving the Past for the Future” and to make good on that intention, today it opened its sixth Belize Archaeology Symposium. News Five’s Kendra Griffith reports from the Bliss.

Dr. Jaime Awe, Dir., Institute of Archaeology
“The Mayas of Belize and Guatemala and Mexico really have the most advanced civilization in the new world. This year’s topic is to ask Why? How? When?”

Kendra Griffith, Reporting
Those are only some of the questions that the will be asked and answered at this year’s Archaeology Symposium held under the theme, “Ancient Maya Socio-Political Organization and Complexities.”

Dr. Jaime Awe
“This topic is very dynamic because we can see where they went wrong, where they went right and then say okay, can we apply this knowledge to us as a modern country.”

Over thirty archaeologists, along with many more archaeology enthusiasts and students are expected to participate in the three-day event.

Dr. Jaime Awe
“We have people from Asia, from Europe, from Canada, the U.S., we might have some colleagues also from Guatemala and Mexico and of course, also Belizeans. I am presenting with some of my colleagues, three different papers.”

One of those colleagues is Dr. James Garber of Texas State University, who has been conducting research in Belize for over thirty years.

Dr. James Garber, Texas State University
“The paper I am presenting today, we are looking at the every beginnings of Maya culture and comparing how those earliest beginnings of the Maya relate to other developing cultures in other areas of Meso-America and what we have found is that the Maya were on par with a great many other cultures and were major contributors to a significant ceremonial iconographic religious system.”

Dr. Jaime Awe
“What I want is other young Belizeans, not just the ones who are presently in our staff, but young Belizeans who might be thinking about making archaeology their career to see that we can be up there with the rest of the world and that here in Belize we have the knowledge, we have the ability to also produce information and to participate in these international forums.”

The institute currently has several projects through which they try to foster in Belizeans a love of archaeology.

Dr. Jaime Awe
“One of the things that we do is we often provide some employment for high school students. In my own project in Cayo I have six high school kids who are out there excavated side by side with some of the foreign students. I also provide some scholarships for two young Belizean women, one from St. John’s College and another one from Galen and they will be also living with the foreign students, learning about archaeology. We try to produce little television shows with some of the local television programmes called Glimpses of the Past. We try to produce information. I think I have a couple booklets about A Hundred and One Questions and Answers about the Ancient Maya of Belize. And so it is up to us to engage the Belizean public to say this is our past, let’s learn about it.”

And according to the experts, learning about the past can provide valuable lessons for the present and the future.

Dr. James Garber
“When we look at virtually all of the aspects that cause problems for the Maya at the peak of their civilization, you can open up a newspaper today and read an article about the same topics: the environment, resources, over taxation, demands on the population, all the same factors that have affected the Mayas in the past are affecting us today, so there are some very important lessons to learn.”

Diane Haylock, President, NICH
“As the famous philosopher George Santayanos said, those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Therefore, let us not be ignorant, let us not make the same mistakes and let us be the prepared minds to take full advantage of the knowledge provided for us here today.”

The Archaeology Symposium ends on Friday. Kendra Griffith reporting for News Five.

Local students and teachers can attend the session for free, while other interested Belizeans pay a fee of ten dollars daily.

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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