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

By Dr. Thomas H. Guderjan

Archaeologists are uncertain precisely while the Maya inhabited the coastal parts of Belize, yet abundant proof exists to aid an intensive maritime exchange community alongside the coast through A.D. six hundred This quantity makes a speciality of the maritime exchange 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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At Chac Balam, unlike most other sites, the marl platforms were faced with cut limestone to produce a facade similar to mainland architecture. On top of these platforms would have been pole and thatch houses. Chac Balam yielded an artifact inventory similar to San Juan's. Polychrome pottery from the mainland and trade goods from the north and south were recovered as well as artifacts of obsidian, basalt, slate and green-stones such as jade. To bury one important adult male, a new addition was built on one of the platforms on top of the body.

The site's excavators believe that during the Early Classic period, the economy of Marco Gonzalez was based upon exploitation of the vast marine resources which the Caribbean provides. The community saw continued success through the Late Classic period as well. However, during the Postclassic period, when other sites on Ambergris were being abandoned, Marco Gonza34 lez underwent large scale expansion. Nearly every one of the structures were added to or used at this time. Even more importantly, it was at this time that Marco Gonzalez became a trade outpost for the great mainland center of Lamanai.

C~,~:cL_~;"O'F. :, ""' : : i; On the front side of the island, things were much different. Many small sites were found which do not have mounds. Where we excavated these sites, like the Franco site, we did not find plazas and large platforms for buildings. Instead there were only the buried, thin plaster floors left from small perishable houses. Only a very few people could have lived at each of these sites, perhaps a family or two. The pottery was very crudely made and no imported artifacts were found.

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