Archaeologists find 1,000-year-old Maya settlement in central Belize

Archaeologists from the Belize Institute of Archaeology and students from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have found a 1,000-year-old Maya settlement in central Belize.

The site was identified at a Mennonite farming community, where the remains of collapsed Maya dwellings appear as white mounds that pocket the landscape.

- Advertisement -

By studying the ceramics found within several structures, the team have dated the site to the Early Classic Period between AD 250 and AD 600. This period marked the peak of large-scale construction and urbanism, the recording of monumental inscriptions, and demonstrated significant intellectual and artistic development across the Maya world.

The structures have plaster floors and a collection of domestic vessels for cooking, eating and storage, while several structures contained agricultural tools made of chert (a crystalline rock that resembles flint) and examples of manos and metates for grinding maize into floor.

Image Credit : VOPA and Belize Institute of Archaeology, NICH

Although primarily an agricultural community, sections of the surrounding forest were apparently left intact for breeding animals, evidenced by the discovery of animal bones in situ.

One of the buildings appears to function as a meeting house or ceremonial structure. The building was constructed using uniformed stones and white limestone plaster. Within the interior the team found 15 stemmed points made of chert, suggesting that they were used for ceremonial offerings during ritual gatherings or for placing in a dedicatory cache.

- Advertisement -

Also unearthed is a substantial platform mound that had four structures constructed on the summit. Based on other Maya sites, it is likely that the platform was reserved for the settlement’s elite who often lived on raised mounds with their extended families.

University of Illinois Ubrana-Champaign

Header Image Credit : VOPA and Belize Institute of Archaeology, NICH

- Advertisement -
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.

Mobile Application


Related Articles

Archaeologists reveal hundreds of ancient monuments using LiDAR

A new study published in the journal Antiquity has revealed hundreds of previously unrecorded monuments at Baltinglass in County Wicklow, Ireland.

Archaeologists use revolutionary GPR robot to explore Viking Age site

Archaeologist from NIKU are using a revolutionary new GPR robot to explore a Viking Age site in Norway’s Sandefjord municipality.

Highway construction delayed following Bronze Age discoveries

Excavations in preparation for the S1 Expressway have delayed road construction following the discovery of two Bronze Age settlements.

Archaeologists uncover possible phallus carving at Roman Vindolanda

Excavations at the Roman fort of Vindolanda have uncovered a possible phallus carving near Hadrian’s Wall.

Carbonised Herculaneum papyrus reveals burial place of Plato

An analysis of carbonised papyrus from the Roman town of Herculaneum has revealed the burial place of Plato.

Sealed 18th century glass bottles discovered at George Washington’s Mount Vernon

As part of a $40 million Mansion Revitalisation Project, archaeologists have discovered two sealed 18th century glass bottles at George Washington's Mount Vernon.

Study suggests human occupation in Patagonia prior to the Younger Dryas period

Archaeologists have conducted a study of lithic material from the Pilauco and Los Notros sites in north-western Patagonia, revealing evidence of human occupation in the region prior to the Younger Dryas period.

Fort excavation uncovers Roman sculpture

Archaeologists excavating Stuttgart’s Roman fort have uncovered a statue depicting a Roman god.