9064 B.C. ( 11,060 years ago)
Au Chac was tired. The trip across the water ( Gulf of Honduras today ) had been long and he had been sea sick. The twelve men in the dugout canoe were greeting friends along the shore of the small island ( Wild Cane Caye today). Several thatched roof huts were scattered around and the sand was covered in tiny pieces of broken pottery, where women had started a new life during their rituals by destroying the possessions of the old one. At least twelve canoes were tied up, much smaller than the one he had crossed the big water. On the mainland opposite he could see a row of seven hills and far off in the distance was the range of mountains were the men paddling the cargo dugout had said they lived.

It had been a long journey and he still had far to go to reach that fabled island of Cozumel to the north, which seemed like some myth. Au Chac had traveled far.

When he had been younger he had traveled the coast to a land in the far south, more than a year of traveling away, with huge mountains and volcanoes in the high country, huge cities like Tiahuanaco and Sacsahuaman had been built from immense blocks of mountain granite, each block as big as one thatched house found around here, but the people called Hauacan & Choumica who had lived near those city ruins in those far off mountains to the south today, did not know how those cities had been built. They spoke of tales passed down from father to son, of unknown ancestors who built them, living a thousand years earlier with many skills not available today. Some catastrophe had occurred cutting off the people of those olden times from their ancestral home on land in the middle of the sea which had been a hot land and turned suddenly cold when the angle of the sun in the sky had changed completely and the star charts had almost become useless as the sky had tilted. These myths and tales were still talked about and Au Chac did not know whether there was any truth in it, or not.

Those people in those far away southern cold high mountains did not have writing today, but he had been surprised to see that the traders of this cargo canoe from this hot lowland here, had some sort of script that they calculated with, on clay tablets. He remembered the argument he had concerning the calendar and timing of the year with the leader of the trade canoe. Some of the old keepers of the records back in the last mountain valleys across the water (Guatemala) spoke of a time in pre-history about the time of the beginning of this Mayan calendar when this area had been a very cold country with something called snow at certain times of the year. Then it had suddenly changed as had the stars in the sky and the weather had become very hot and the vegetation had changed. No one knew today if those old tales were true, but they sounded similar to the tales told in the mountains far to the south. Those were the stories handed down from generation to generation.

People just did things differently in different places, but the moon and the stars never changed as f ar as he was concerned and wherever he had been, festivals and celebrations were timed to the night sky. He looked around him disgusted at this group. Most of them were drunk. They had been driving away the evil spirits by burning copal and drinking wine. Only the Nacon did not get drunk.

This drunken festival would continue until the month of Pop. He fervently hoped he would get a ride with someone returning to the highland villages across the small bay and up the river. (Golden Stream) He wanted to discuss his new calendar with the astrologers and wise men in those hills to see what they thought of the new way of counting the days of the year. It was the tenth Katun by his count. ( 9064 B.C.- 11,064 years ago ) He thought about his new name. It was the custom of people in towns and villages in this area, to find some citizen with the same last name as a traveler. They would assume that there must be some remote family linkage because of the same surname and give him food and shelter, this was the custom. He had chosen the name carefully, back across the bay in the mountains to the west.


2,338 years ago ( 342 B.C.)

Reluctantly, Seiba climbed up on the rocks by the side of the stream. She dried herself off and replaced the gourd covering her genitals and tied the string around her waist.

Much later, between the cracks in the palmetto walls of her house she watched the magnificent procession of the Lord of Tikal. Her town chief ahaoub for Caracol was dressed in his finery as befitting a vassal lord on the periphery of the political organization of the area. The visiting royal Lord of Tikal wore a Jaguars head and a feathered headdress of the Quetzal bird denoting his high rank. The warriors surrounding him in the procession had their war regalia on, with leather shields on wicker framework, spears, axes, bows and arrows. Walking behind came lesser individuals in a long line. Inside the dark shadows of the hut Seiba could hear her mother making ready the calabashes of food which was the allotment assigned to this house of her father. Seiba had already filled a clay jug with wine decorated with writing for special occasions, which she would have to carry out to the visitors at a command from the Nacom. First there would be some rituals and sacrifices to the Gods which would take at least an hour. She supposed the three young men from the other side of the town that had been causing trouble with an older man who had no woman and was finding life difficult because of a leg injury would be killed at dusk. The girls had been talking about it down by the stream. A big pile of stones had been built up in the ceremonial plaza and three stakes set in the ground. The old men of the council and the Ahaoub did not tolerate teenage disobedience and hooligan actions, such rowdy young men were always killed to teach obedience and set an example to others of public behavior.

It was the annual visit of the senior regional lord from Tikal and the town had known he was coming, because runners had arrived yesterday to give the warning. She didn't know why he was coming this way, because the gossip was that the procession had proceeded from Tikal in the Peten ), to Yaxha, then Ixkun to the southwest of Caracol in Belize ) a fairly straight journey according to the gossip she had overheard the men talking about last evening.

Usually the Lord of Tikal visited the vassal states in this area by going to the north of Tikal, visiting Uaxactun, Xultun, Holmul, Nakum, Xunantanich, Naranjo then Caracol with Ixkun last on the visiting circuit before returning home to Tikal. Sometimes he went southwest to visit Machaquila, Aquateca, Dos Pilas Seibal, Polol, Itsimte and Tayasal before returning to Tikal. This visit was strange and she could sense the uneasiness of the town leaders.

( The date was 342 B.C. in what is known as the pre-classic era when Caracol was a vassal state of Tikal, or 2338 years ago.)

Mik Chan waited patiently on the sand beach waiting for the paddlers who crewed the dugout to arrive. The surf broke on the reef just off shore. It was a never ending pretty sight, but after two months of it he had enough. He wanted his milpa, the fruit trees, his tame deer, turkeys, wife and children around him once more. They had all been drinking heavily last night of the wine, made from honey and water. He himself had a severe headache that did not seem to go away with the rising sun. The bright light as the sun rose in the sky hurt his eyes. The three young girls at the thatched house who had served the wine and gone off on the beach with each of the traders during the night, in return for the pretty stones had been not bad. The really young one was very sweet, when she had told him she liked him and wanted his baby. He wondered who her family were and why she had run away. He hadn't liked the older girl because she drank too much and he didn't like women who drank. He checked his pouch ruefully. His wife was going to be angry he thought. There was nearly nothing left from his trading trip north to Xelba along the reef . He had been gone for two moons. She would be expecting more than what he brought back. He would tell her the high surf had rolled them over when crossing the reef to find a place to camp for the night on the way back and they had lost most of the cargo. They were all going to have to get their stories straight so the details would agree, for the women tended to gossip together when washing and they would be sure to pick the tales to pieces in little bits and if there was any discrepancy, they would soon get into trouble. It wasn't that the trading trip hadn't gone well. It had and they had made much.

The trouble was the girls, drinking and partying all the way down the coast and they had spent nearly the whole load. There was not going to be much left to split as shares among the crew when they got home to Saxia (Santa Rita-Corozal).

Four hours later, with the sun high in the sky with Xcalak and the great ocean and barrier reef behind them, the sorry lot of paddlers swatted mosquitoes as they cleared the last of the mangroves crowding the passage between the ocean and the inland bay. (Bacalar Chico the stream that separates Belize and Mexico today) . Everybody had a headache, but he knew the paddling and the sweat would get rid of the unhealthy effects of the drink by the time they were three hours further west near Rocky Point down the bay with the tradewind behind their backs. They were not going to arrive at Saxia (Corozal) before night caught them and it was probably going to be the middle of the night when the star formation Orion would be high overhead before they arrived home. If they didn't get lost in the dark! There would probably be some fires along the habitations on the shore making smoke for mosquitoes, which just might give a beacon of direction during the paddling in the blackest part of the night. Unfortunately, there was no moon expected, but the starlight was quite bright and they should be able to see the trees on the shoreline. He and the men would be glad to get home to their own hammocks and wives, it had been a fun trip and just the thing to break the boredom from planting crops all the time.

Not only did the Indians have a count for the year and months, as has been before set out, but they also had a certain method of counting time and their matters by ages, which they counted by 20-year periods, counting thirteen twenties, with one of the twenty signs in their months, which they call Ahau, not in order, but going backwards as appears in the following circular design. In their language they call these periods katuns, with these making a calculation of ages that is marvelous; thus it was easy for the old man of whom I spoke in the first chapter to recall events which he said had taken place 300 years before. Had I not known of this calculation I should not have believed it possible to recall after such a period.*

Tutul Xiu was very excited. They had been paddling for the whole day since leaving Rocky Point ( Chetumal Bay near Sartenja today ) along the shore of the main island, since leaving in the middle of the night last night. Before the sun set, he would see for himself the fabled transhipment port of Quia ( Ambergris Caye south point ) on the shallow shore of the island. When they got through the passage between the land ahead, his cousin had told him, he should be able to see the ocean waves breaking white on the reef and there would be about twenty houses. This was the first real new stop for him on the voyage they planned all the way south for weeks, to the lands of high mountains across the open sea. Tutul was excited, he had just turned fifteen and this had been his present from his uncle. When the invitation came, his mother had not wanted him to leave, but his father had said okay. It amazed him to think that for twenty or more generations his family had been making this trip and now it was his turn to see the outside world. He had marveled at all the hundreds of birds living on that one small caye behind the main island and wondered why they had chosen just that one small caye when there was so much country to put their nests in? His uncle told him the paddling and waves would get rougher once they cleared Quia and the islands beyond that. They would follow the reef south for most of the way, camping at different spots and meeting new people who fished on the islands and lived further south in towns he had heard of, but never ever dreamed of seeing. He would not see the towns on this trip either, but he would make new friends, meet relatives with his last same surname maybe and perhaps one day be able to travel overland and visit to see for himself how they lived down there.

CERROS, 2,183 YEARS AGO (187 B.C)
Cob Chan was sore and tired. His head hurt and he had a bump the size of a turkey egg blurring his right eye. His hands were tied behind his back and his fingers were going numb. It was the month of Pax ( May ). He had traveled from far inland past Lake Yaxha, across the Mopan River to the town of Baltok on the Macal River. Here he had proceeded down river, past Xunantanich guarding the road to the coastal sea, until reaching Zaczuz, which was just a few hours of canoe travel further than Petenzub. From Zaczuz and nearby Chantome across the river on the north side, ( near Belmopan today ) he had taken the trail to the town of Boxelac, then across the Cancanilla River (Labouring Creek today), until he once again had found passage in a canoe going north down the Dzulumicob River ( New River ). He had been treated well by some distant relative in Colmotz by the last surname as his (Chan) and told that there were more Chan Is living further north in Lamanai with whom he could stay. There had been warnings from these distant cousins of his in Colmotz, where he had spent the night. War was going on further north among the towns of Chinam, Uatibal and Chanlacan, on the lagoon and coastal area of the big bay ( Chetumal Bay today ). He hoped he could avoid any pitched battles, or involvement.

His luck had run out on the river about 4 hours paddling beyond the town of Holpatin, which had been about eight hours of paddling north of Lamanai. He and his companions from Lamanai had been set upon by a war party from Chanlacan, which was situated to the north and overland on another lagoon to the east ( Progresso Lagoon ). He had woke up with his hands tied behind his back and a big headache. From the battle he had been marched to the end of the river and along the coast of the bay ( Chetumal Bay ) to the site of some sort of temple complex called Cerros. There were a lot of dugouts pulled up along the shore when he arrived and hundreds of people around. As a prisoner and slave he knew what his fate would be.

Before his eyes the Ahauob of Cerros and the Nacom, along with their ceremonial attendants, had taken the prisoners one by one up the temple steps to be sacrificed to the Gods.

It was the year 187 B.C. by our modern calendar in Cerros on the shore of Chetumal Bay and the head of New River. It had been 2927 years since-the start of the new Mayan calendar, that had started in 3114 B.C., or about 5109 years ago, since the date 1996 by our counting and 9064 years of our counting since that traveler 'Au Chac' had crossed the Bay of Honduras to Golden Stream in the Toledo District of today, those thousands of years earlier when he had conceived of the new calendar the Maya had finally adopted many, many, centuries later in 3114 B.C.

On the far side of the world in the Mediterranean Sea, the Greeks had started to form their civilization just a mere 589 years earlier in 776 B.C., while Romulus would form the first village he called Rome just 110 years later than the Greeks. The Indian bible the Bhagavad-Gita had already been written and passed down for the last 4,191 years. The Mayan history books of record were now 3,200 years old, those that we know of. The Ahauob of Cerros did not know this of course. He got the idea of becoming a King and building a temple on a trading trip he had made across to the central valley of Mexico. The Gods demanded blood and the prisoners would provide a suitable sacrifice.

It was the year Kan and the suitable God was Hobnil who ruled the south. So the wise men of the council had ordered that clay idols be made of the God Kan-uvayeyab and be placed at the piles of stone marking the entrance to the ceremonial plaza on the south side. Clay statues were then made of the God Bolon-tzacab which was placed in front of the Kings house by the central plaza. The council Of Wise men and other sub leaders, ordered the villagers from far around to clean the road and pathways and prepare arches of cohune palms and bay leaves. The nobles went to the first statue at the south and there they gathered in a devout ritual. The statue was covered in smoke from the copal incense and forty nine grains of the best maize. This ground maize was a holy gift and called sacah. A guinea hen had it's head cut off and was presented as an offering to the god.

From here the statue was raised on a wooden platform carried on the shoulders of men called kante, with a calabash of water along with more clay statues painted in different bright colors. The whole was carried back to the house of the king and the other God statue Bolon-tzacab. The statues were not Gods of course, just representations like Catholics and Christians do today with crosses and idols on the cross. A drink was passed around to all the nobles of the community made of 415 kernels of maize. This drink was called picula kakla and everybody of importance took a ritual drink. Here more offerings of food and drink were made to the two Gods now present. Strangers and visitors were also made presents of food and drink at this time. The Nacom received a leg of deer meat.

Further offerings were made during this ceremony to the God Kanalacantun by cutting their ears, or other parts and offering their own blood to smear the face of the statue. A ritual paste of calabash seeds and molded bread was offered to the God Kanuvayeyab. Incense braziers were used to cover the statues with sweet smelling smoke. These rituals were to prevent bad luck in the coming year. Once the days of ceremony were over, they believed that the evil spirits were driven out and the coming year of Kan and the bacab Hobnil would be a good one.

The Ahauob of Cerros had then commanded that another statue be made of the God Itzamna-kauil and place at the top of the steps in the temple. Up there, the nobles burned three balls of resin called kik (rubber) and proceeded to sacrifice the prisoners. This was done by throwing the men quickly on a round stone altar, holding the man or woman's arms and legs splayed open by the attendants. The Nacom then used a heavy stone dagger to break and spread the bones of the rib cage just below the nipple, where he could reach in and pull out the beating heart. This was then carried around the temple and blood was smeared on the stone faces of the Gods. Food and drink were then offered as gifts to the Gods and people in the plaza below.

The people of Chunox, Sartenja and Corozal experimented with Kingship over 2000 years ago at Cerros. They finally decided to go back to the ancient ways of small f arming villages, much as they do today. The King that started the building program in Cerros at the head of the New River was never buried in the acropolis he had made. Whether he was killed in battle, captured and sacrificed, or died some death at a remote location on a trading trip we do not know. We know that his heirs managed to get enough support from the surrounding area to build more temples. These were done roughly and cheaply. City states were rising and sinking at this time and Cerros and Lamanai were some of the very first in Maya history and of course Belize to ever be built. The very act of building pyramids placed Belize in the historical forefront as a leader in the changing customs of political organization for the Maya of meso america. The swampy northern area of Belize was also the the breadbasket for the nearby drier northern Yucatan with it's droughts and insect pests. The system of walled fields, and seasonal re-fertilization of the growing area by heaping the muck cleaned out of the drainage irrigation canals onto the ridges on each side would make new soil, full of fresh rich nutrients. In fact, they could plant crops every day, or every week of the year and never do without food. In later centuries this practice was to be developed as industrial farming and the Maya exported food far and wide, particularly during the 200 year drought in the Peten which hardly effected them at all, due to the swampy ground and local rainfall convection from the nearness of the sea.

Traders from Cerros traveled far and wide, in long dugout canoes with as many as forty paddlers. They traveled north to Cozumel and south to Honduras visiting many of the trading ports in between. They were young men, full of adventure and eager to see the wide world, to explore the fabled lands beyond northern Belize. This practice went on for thousands of years. We know those people more than 2000 years ago in Belize were literate, for they wrote on their pots and ceramics. We can still read these today. Something emphatic must have happened, or perhaps it was some charismatic leader. The village that lay at the site before the temples at Cerros were built, was abandoned as a group. The people broke their belongings, the pots, the jade jewelry and buried the house sites, in a ritual ceremony of getting rid of the old life and the starting of a new life, making a broad plastered plaza with massive temples. This must have taken a lot of organized labor from the farms around the area. It was not uncommon for farmers in Belize those thousands of years ago to live to be eighty years old. Life must have been healthy then, as it is now. Even though we know they traded as far as the central valley of Mexico and saw metal tools. For some reason, they never adopted metal tools in Belize.

One of the instruments found at Kichpanha, a burial site, just a few miles south of Cerros was a bone bloodletting instrument used in ceremonial rituals from the pre-classic era, a few hundred years before the temples at Cerros were built.

Ambergris Caye was used as a port of entry for the villages of Chetumal Bay during those old days. I suppose foreign traders would need guides, or transhipment of goods to find the towns in the area coming by sea. Much of the area has a lot of very shallow water, making passage for trading canoes difficult in some spots. This would have required local knowledge.

The sign of royal leadership, or kingship as we call it through the pre-classic era of 2500 years ago, to the present day was a headband, or sort of crown of precious stones representing the Jester God image found on many carved monuments over many centuries of history. A cache of stone pendants was found at Cerros in northern Belize made in the first century B.C. Five head pendants of precious stone were discovered in a deliberate arrangement within a ceramic bucket at Cerros. This style of lowland Mayan stone carving did not change for another thousand years. A nearly identical royal headband piece was found at Nim Li Punit in the Toledo District of modern day Belize, but was made some five hundred years later, representing the Jester God, a sign of kingship and royalty. Four more headbands were discovered at the city state of Nohmul also in Belize. These four also had precious stones, particularly greenstones. The headbands of royalty at Nobmul in Belize were almost a thousand years younger ( or later ) than that found from Cerros. In Belize, so far the earliest discovery of writing is 2500 years ago. The new Mayan calendar we know started 5110 years ago.

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