Archaeological Symposium Studies Mayan Social Identity

As we showed you at the top of the newscast, 3 international archaeology students died yesterday in a major traffic accident at mile 60 on the Western Highway.

Well today, the archaeological community remembered them at day 2 of the 11th annual Belize Archaeology and Anthropology Symposium.

This year, the theme is Ancient Maya household and social identity in Belize. Today, we went to the San Ignacio Resort Hotel, where the Directors of the Institute of Archaeology were excited about the number of scientists who made the effort to participate this year:

Dr. John Morris - Associate Director for Research and Education, Belize Institute of Archaeology
"This is our annual Archaeology and Anthropologist symposium - every year for the last eleven years we have been conducting a symposium where we get all the researches and who do work in archaeology and anthropology to present their findings to the Belizean public and of course to other researchers who come from Mexico, Guatemala and the US and other countries to this symposium. One of the more fascinating papers is when it's going to be done on Friday - which deals with the St. George's Caye which was our first capital of Belize. We've been doing a lot of excavations out there and those findings are going to be presented on this Friday."

Daniel Ortiz
"We were told that there was one specific Archaeological find which was put on display today. Can you tell us about that - something that is very unique?"

Dr. John Morris
"That's the ancient Maya Paddle - it's very difficult for wooden objects to preserve in this climate and you're talking about a 2000 year old paddle that was preserved in the peat bug around Paynes Creek. We had taken that paddle out of the country to be conserved because we don't have the equipment here to do so - it just returned back to Belize and we’re presenting it today."

Dr. Jaime Awe - Director, Belize Institute of Archaeology
"This year - the 11th year , it's also far improved, better - we now have the largest number of papers ever given in any symposium in Belize that deals with both the prehistoric and contemporary culture of Belize. This year in fact we have about 48 papers being presented. For me it's reassuring and refreshing to know that one of these days when I retire that there are a lot of young Belizeans coming up who will carry that torch."

And one of those brilliant young anthropologists is Celine Solis, who made a presentation about Mayan language and its European influences. She explained it to us:

Celine Solis - Research Assistant, ISCR
"We presented yesterday afternoon and my paper was actually my undergrad thesis from school in Cuba and it was a Socio-phonetics study of Las Flores, a community in Belmopan. Now Socio-phonetics refers to sociology and linguistics and I studied the aphonic name trying to determine what the influence of Spanish is when these speakers from these community speak Belize Creole to try and perceive how the Spanish permeates through into their language. Belize has done works in linguistics through the National Creole council and the Belize Creole project but I don't think we've addressed or started to address the different variations of speech that we have in this country. We have a multitude of cultures and a multiple of languages."

The Symposium continues tomorrow and ends on Friday.

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