Ancient Maya Traders of Ambergris Caye by Dr. Thomas H. Guderjan

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By Dr. Thomas H. Guderjan

Archaeologists are uncertain precisely whilst the Maya inhabited the coastal parts of Belize, yet plentiful proof exists to help an intensive maritime exchange community alongside the coast by means of A.D. six hundred This quantity makes a speciality of the maritime alternate community websites on Ambergris Caye, Belize the place excavations have published remnants of very small villages, or camps, alongside the Caribbean coastline.

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En route to Belize City by boat in the 1920s, Gann made a stop on Ambergris to excavate the 'largest mound' on the northern part of the island. He wrote that: "several burial mounds were excavated, in which bones were disturbed, the skeletons lying on their backs... and food offerings in pottery receptacles provided for their journey into the next world, indicating the usual method of burial among these people. A second mound was excavated, which had been built over the ruins of a small stone chamber.

In some cases such as at Laguna Frances, larger buildings were placed on top of 20 the Early Classic remains and protected them from erosion. By the Late Classic period, the coastal margins of the island had become heavily settled. San Juan, Chac Balam, Ek Luum, Punta Limon, Santa Cruz, Laguna Frances, San Pedro Lagoon, Tres Cocos, Habaneras, Burning Water, the Hancock site and Marco Gonzalez were occupied. It is during the Late Classic period that we see evidence of the greatest coastal population and the greatest diversity of sites.

These people probably made a living by fishing. Although they had few 'expensive' possessions, their lives were probably quite comfortable. It appears that the wealth ofthe sea was more than enough to satisfy their needs. Other larger communities dating to the Late Classic period are also found on the windward side of Ambergris Caye. Typically, these sites cover several hundred square meters and some of them, such as Mata Grande, Tres Cocos and Habaneros, benefited from long distance trade. While we have not excavated at these sites, surface collections yielded sherds of high quality, imported pottery and artifacts such as basalt grinding stones and obsidian blades from remote areas.

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