Archaeologist gives tour of vault hidden in neighbourhood

Open Your Eyes aired live from the vaults in the Yarborough this morning with a lesson on history to kick off our series ``City Tours” that will feature landmarks in old capital. In case you did not know, the site was a burial ground, built in 1861 by German engineer Gustav Von Olhaffen. Years after it had been abandoned, the site was converted into a park by Joe Sanker in an effort to preserve it. Archaeologist, Dr. Jaime Awe, appeared on the show and gave us more on the history of what is to most people, just a wall.

Dr. Jaime Awe, Archaeologist
”Constructed in 1861, opened in 1862 two but this is one of the most short lived cemeteries in the city of Belize. It only lasted about four years. It was closed in 1866 and we don’t know exactly how many people were buried here. There is some debate, some people said that it was closed down because it got filled up and it was a very unpopular place. Why was it unpopular? Likely because of superstitions; people believed that you should be buried in the ground, below ground. And there was actually a riot in Belize City to boycott and to terminate the structure because the way it was built was such that you could have added more on top if you wanted to add more of the vaults. But it was terminated and the graveyard was moved elsewhere. What is interesting too, is that the way it was constructed, today when you look at the grave yard, you will see only 4 horizontal levels of niches—we call each one a niche—and there are actually 5. But if you notice, it’s been filled in and so the fifth or lowermost line of niches or graves are below ground today.”

Von Olhaffen passed away in 1883 and was buried in one of the niches.

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