Archaeologists Recently Discover an Ancient 1,000-year-old Maya Settlement With Big Ceremonial Structures and Artifacts

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Recently, in a modernized Mennonite farming community in Central Belize, remains of ancestral Maya homes were discovered. The fields have been plowed, causing some damage to the remaining artifacts. Archaeologists report that they were "limited on how and where [they] can excavate." This hurdle, though, has presented the opportunity for the archaeologists to "study an ancestral Maya neighborhood." [i]

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Fifteen stemmed macro-blades were found in the settlement.VOPA and Belize Institute of Archaeology

The portrait painted by their research evidenced various "styles, forms, and decoration of broken pieces of pottery" and "agricultural tools made of chert, a type of crystalline rock that resembles flint, and manos and metates, which were used to grind maize into flour." Photos of these are below. [ii]

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Grinding tools. Left, a metate fragment; Bottom, a round stone; Right, a mano fragment. Metates & Manos were utilized to grind maize.VOPA and Belize Institute of Archaeology

Additionally, the "Maya left forests in place because the animal bones we find here are of species that can only breed in the forest." One of the buildings discovered has presented a challenge for archaeologists. [iii]

It does not have the usual stock of artifacts "in a typical Maya household." For this reason and due to its "uniform stones and white limestone plaster," researchers believe it to be "some type of community building." [iii]

The Maya were considered an advanced civilization. One interesting fact about the Maya is that they loved chocolate. Research indicates that "the chemical signatures of cacao have been found in Maya ceramic vessels in Guatemala that date back to 600 BCE." Their 'hot chocolate' was not like our present-day version. Instead,

The Maya would mix cacao with water, honey, chili peppers, cornmeal, and other ingredients to make a foamy, spicy drink. Maya art and hieroglyphs suggest drinking cacao was an important part of celebrations and rituals."[iv]

The video below further details the history of chocolate, originating in Mesoamerica.

References

[i] Rachel Gill, Yifan Wang, Exploring an ancestral Maya neighborhood, (Sep. 9, 2022)

[ii] Id.

[iii] Heritage Daily, Archaeologists Find 1,000-year-old Maya Settlement in Central Belize, (Sep. 2022)

[iv] Megan Gannon, 15 Facts About the Maya Civilization, (May 15, 2016)

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