Belize’s The Lodge at Chaa Creek said it welcomes the recent discovery of an ancient Maya tomb at the neighbouring archaeological site of Xunantunich as another important step in unlocking the mysteries of the area’s rich Maya heritage.
It is also a very timely discovery, according to marketing administrator Roberto Harrison, who said it comes just as the popular Belizean eco-resort launched a new “Cultural Grand Tour” all-inclusive Belize vacation package.
“Chaa Creek’s new cultural grand tour has already generated a lot of interest, and the news of this find only adds to its relevance and excitement,” Mr Harrison said.
According to Belize’s Reporter newspaper, the historical find was made by a team headed by Dr Jaime Awe, an archaeologist and one of the world’s foremost Mayanists, and is the first time a tomb has been found at Xunantunich despite decades of research and excavations.
Within the tomb, which lay some five to eight metres below the ground’s surface, the archaeologists found the remains of a young, possibly royal, man as well as ceramic and jade artefacts and animal bones that may have come from a deer or jaguar.
The archaeology website Ancient Origins also reported on the discovery, highlighting its importance as the first tomb to be found on the ancient ceremonial site and noting that it is yet to be completely excavated.
Dr Awe, who was a former director of Belize’s Institute of Archaeology and currently teaches at Northern Arizona University, said “What’s amazing about the discovery of this tomb is that, we know that archaeologists have been working at Xunantunich since the 1890s. That’s more than a century of continuous archaeological work at the site. And, never before have we found a tomb.”
He also described the find, which comes on the heels of a previous discovery of a trove of artefacts and an important stone tablet at Xunantunich in early June 2016, as remarkable for being “one of the largest burial chambers we have ever found,” in Belize.
Mr Harrison said the recent find also reveals the extent and wealth of Belize’s ancient history, and the dynamic nature of the research continually being conducted in the tiny Caribbean nation.
“Over 70 ancient Maya sites have been recorded within Chaa Creek’s 400-acre private nature reserve alone, and who knows what else is waiting to be discovered in the surrounding rainforests, the huge network of caves, along Belize’s Caribbean coast and even out on some of the dozens of cayes? Many researchers believe that we haven’t even scratched the surface of Maya archaeology.
“And the Maya are just one of the many vibrant cultures who contribute to the colourful melting pot that’s Belize,” he added.
Mr Harrison said that Chaa Creek’s Belize Cultural Grand Tour was the result of visitors’ comments and questions about the rich, harmonious diversity of Belize’s famously multicultural population.
“Right here at Chaa Creek, in the village markets or anywhere in Belize, people hear English, Spanish, Mayan, Garifuna, Creole, Mennonite German and other languages spoken, and they become fascinated about how this came to be, and how everyone seems to get along so well. We decided that it actually is quite amazing, and that each culture has its own story to tell while revealing how people of such different backgrounds blended together to create contemporary Belize.
“The tour covers the entire country, beginning at Chaa Creek and ending at the luxurious Villa Verano Villas in the Garifuna village of Hopkins on the Caribbean coast, so that over the course of a week people get a real understanding of both the physical and cultural beauty of Belize while enjoying eco-luxe lodgings, exquisite dining and a variety of healthy, exciting activities,” Mr Harrison said.
And with the exquisitely detailed pyramid temple at Xunantunich as one of the tour’s highlights, guests may well see Dr Awe and his team at work with further excavations.
“That’s the one of the many beauties of Belize. Each day is another new adventure and you never know what you’ll find,” Mr Harrison said.
Mr Harrison added that people can learn more about Belize’s history and cultures by visiting the Chaa Creek website and are welcome to contact their travel agents or Chaa Creek directly for more details about the cultural grand tour and other all-inclusive Belize vacation packages.