Ancient artifacts, relics of the colonial history of this great land of ours, you can easily see them in our museum and various houses of culture in Belize. Some of them are a few hundred years old, some are thousands. Some were left behind by the English and Spanish who made their presence in Belize, others by the ancient Maya. “But I have one of those” you might say.
We have heard it before. Your grandmother had old bottles; while you were digging for your farm you came across a stone tool or ceramic pot. Some red flags may go up, fear creeps in, that the Institute of Archaeology is coming, along with the police, to arrest you for having a bottle and take away your land because you found a pot.
Then again you may have different ideas. How much can I get for it? The ‘how much’ idea is quite common in our jewel. The historic value fades away as the dream of big money comes to light. The evils of greed take over and pieces of Belizean history are gone forever. Every time a single piece gets sold and is taken from Belize, we lose a part of what makes up the story of this nation, which did not begin with the coming of the Spanish or British, it begins a lot further back.
“But these things mean nothing to me.” We have heard that one too. People offer to sell things to us, and we refuse to buy, as it is quite illegal to buy or sell antiquities. But there is another reason we refuse to buy. History is not for sale, and we believe it is up to every citizen of this nation to safeguard our cultural identity. It benefits us all, by telling us where we came from. It also benefits us as it can mean a lucrative future in cultural tourism, which means money in the bank for Belize.
So, what should you do if you have these things at home? What should you do if you find a pot or a stone tool on your property? You can donate it to us, or apply for a license to have a private collection. Yes, you can legally hold artifacts and display them by having a license, and the license is free, all you have to do is apply. All of you can help to be custodians of our heritage, as every bottle, every piece of jade, every beautifully painted vase belongs to no one. They belong to the whole nation of Belize. We can make sure that the glory of our ancestry is not lost. We can make sure the stories never fade away.