Thursday, November 01, 2012

Walking Into a Maya Village with Jan Brown

Above: On the Bridge above the mangroves with Jan Brown, the Marco Gonzalez Archaeological Reserve, the crown of the trees growing on the part presently above sea level at least, visible behind her. That "black dirt," the anthrosol, the humanly created and humanly placed soil, extends outward, under the mangroves that can tolerate living in the brackish water. The Island, Ambergris Caye - and only an island because the Maya cut a channel into the coral reef and across the penisula - "was home to an estimated 20,000 Maya traders at the height of their occupation of the island. There are 18 sites recognized on the 25 mile long island and none of these sites had been preserved. In 2008, a conversation between Ex-pat Jan Brown, living here for several years, and a prominent citizen, Winston (Frank) Panton took place regarding this. An idea was born. Jan proceeded to talk to officials about the selection of the Marco Gonzalez site to be preserved to become a visitation site. By April 2009, the announcement came forth - Marco Gonzalez Maya Site was to be the first official location to be preserved. Restoration of the site and a Visitors Center/Educational Center would be developed for all to enjoy ( )..."
You might wonder how many people presently live in Belize: "Belize currently has 220,000 people, 4000 on Ambergris Caye. At the high point of the Maya population, the whole of Belize including Ambergris Caye had 2,000,000 people," or so it is believed by the people (or person) who maintain(s) the Ambergris Caye Web-site, that includes the page I lifted this above information from: { }
Below: First glimpses of the "Black Dirt (and the first of many termite nests)."
Imagine this: every foot step that anyone takes on this site, this National Park, is on something that was placed there sometime in the last 2,000 years. Well, almost everything. It has been washed over by the continually rising ocean, so flotsam has been added at the same time as the site has been eroding and people have been digging and looting. The more modern (and supposedly "more civilized") cultures of the last 500 have also, like the original Maya, have been planting food in the Black Dirt every now and again. I wondered now and again what trees might have been growing on the island before it was quickly de-forested, as was the rest of the Carribean, an unknown number of species probably clear cut into extinction that causes Conservators of Antique Furniture to scratch their heads as they stare at some sort of wood they can't identify... 
And then there's a tool someone left just laying around...
And then there are these sorts of artifacts that Jan pointed out to me:

It was a little chilling to have a human leg bone pointed out to me.
But then again, when Jan pointed out a piece of human arm bone, I told her I found it "Humerous."

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