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#454242 - 12/28/12 08:06 AM Re: Marco Gonzalez officially becomes a National Park [Re: Marty]  
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Marco Gonzalez receives $17,000BZE 17,000

Jan Brown, Chairman of the Board, Marco Gonzalez Maya Site Project is proud to announce the receipt of a $7,000 USD donation from the Frederick S. Upton Foundation. They have been very supportive through the efforts of Board Member Matt Fowler, now residing in the US. Along with this came another donation of $1500 USD from an anonymous donor.

These funds will be used in the upgrading of the grounds at the entrance of the Archaeological Reserve. Use of the monies are being considered to raise the level of the surrounding land and build a palapa with picnic tables for guests to enjoy their experience even more. Also, upgrade of the current boardwalk is high on the priority list. Another consideration is the establishment of a pier for guests to arrive by boat. Recent donations from the Foundation and guests have included the Fee Collection Booth, a two-section restroom, work on the boardwalk, maintenance equipment for site improvement and installation of interpretive signage throughout the site.

Accepting the donation was Jan Brown, Chairman, and Peter Nolan, President of the Project Board of Directors. These donations truly make for a Happy Holiday spirit at Marco Gonzalez.

#457134 - 02/03/13 08:24 AM Re: Marco Gonzalez officially becomes a National Park [Re: Marty]  
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Tom Marvel to create plan for Marco Gonzalez Visitor center

The groundwork has commenced for the Marco Gonzalez Archaeological Site to get its welcome center. Visiting from San Jose, Puerto Rico, Architect Tom Marvel was on Ambergris Caye canvassing the site and getting acquainted with the island in preparation to create what the new Visitor’s Center will be.

At the end of his visit, he was hosted by Mayor Danny Guerrero and wife, plus members of the Board of Directors of the Marco Gonzalez Archeological Site, to dinner at Elvis Kitchen on Saturday January 26th. Speaking of his experience on the island, Marvel stated; “You have a very interesting town here. Very Caribbean. Very lively, lots of things going on, I think it is very impressive – extremely highly developed.”

Tom-Marvel-tours-Marco-Gonzalez-SiteTom Marvel is an instructor in one of the Caribbean’s most renowned school of architecture, University of Puerto Rico’s School of Architecture. He is what most would consider, in his own words “a design critic”. Marvel arrived on the island on January 24th and left on the 27th. While in San Pedro, Marvel had a chance to meet with the locals as well as learn about the history of the island as well the Archeological Site.

He plans on taking this wealth of information, along with tons of photos of the island, its culture and the site, and have his students use this to come up with designs for the new center. Work on the designs will commence in early February with the two best final products being sent back to Belize in May. Marvel expressed to The San Pedro Sun that he plans on insisting that all designs take into consideration Belizean materials, and he envisions the final product being a completely Belizean production. At the moment, the Marco Gonzalez committee is working on securing funds for the construction of the center. For any information on the Marco Gonzalez site or to find out how you can assist, feel free to contact Jan Brown at 662-2725.

San Pedro Sun

#458143 - 02/16/13 08:32 AM Re: Marco Gonzalez officially becomes a National Park [Re: Marty]  
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An Excellent Opportunity for Marco Gonzalez Project

An excellent opportunity has come along for the Marco Gonzalez Project – the designing of a Visitor/Educational Center by the 2013 graduate students at the University of Puerto Rico/School of Architecture. Nine students have been chosen by their Grad. Program Coordinator Ms. Anna Georas to undertake this design work as their final assignment before being able to graduate. These students may need an excellent grade to compliment work towards their Masters Degree or thesis for future Doctorate work. Whatever level of study is involved, they will put heart and soul into this work to achieve their level of excellence for future employment as well.

This opportunity came about quite by surprise. Let me explain, please.

Some of you in San Pedro in 2011 and 2012 had the pleasure to have one of BTB’s “Road Warriors” visit your business, experience what you had to offer the public and then the Warrior would blog about it – internationally. I, too, took several Warriors through the Marco Gonzalez Maya site. About a year after Mr. Figueroa had been to the site, completed his Belize adventure and gone home, I received an email from him. He’d remembered our conversation about future plans for Marco including a proper boardwalk and a Visitors/Educational Center for all to see and learn about the Coastal Tom-MarvelMaya of Ambergris Caye. He said in the email that he’s an alumnus from the UPR School of Architecture. He’d had conversations with the Dean of the College regarding our Center. Since UPR/SA had done many international projects, he asked if we would be interested in a collaboration to design something for our non-profit group. This out-of-the-blue suggestion was very exciting. A “non-profit” is always grateful for help where offered, especially when the cost to us is free and the value to the community would be tremendous. After conferring with the Board, NICH, Institute of Archaeology and Minister Heredia/BTB, we accepted their offer. The travel plans were made for a representative to visit San Pedro and Marco Gonzalez Archaeological Reserve to get a feel for our past and present culture. Mr. Tom Marvel, Professor of the Grad Program/UPR/SA, was on the island a short time, but the conversations were non-stop with meetings everywhere. Mr. Marvel’s trip ended with a working dinner with SP Mayor Guerrero, Culture Committee Chairman Paz, members of the MGMSAC, Ltd Board – at the expense of the Board, not the Mayor, by the way. Unfortunately, Minister Heredia was off island and could not attend.

Several have questioned “why not a Belizean designer?”, “Why not use a Belizean college?” Although a recent article announced the collaboration, this project is far from written in stone. Furthermore, any plans offered FREE by any Belizean architect or school would certainly be considered. Ultimately, MGMS, Ltd has many steps to complete with many GOB agencies in order for any Center to even be built. We are transparent to explain: land has to be acquired, decision of where it is to be built (the Center cannot be built ON the site), the final design of the building, building funds sought, sign-off by a Belizean architect, hiring a Belizean contractor through the bid process…and that’s just the highlights.

In 2008 a conversation between two friends at a bar was held. “Our Maya history on the island should be preserved.” I’m very proud of the results to date. If you would like more information on the Marco Gonzalez Maya Site Project, call me, Jan Brown, 226-2059/662-2725. But be prepared for a lengthy conversation! Better yet, let’s talk during your tour through the only Archaeological Reserve on an island in the country of Belize…the spirits of the Maya await you at Marco Gonzalez.

#463086 - 04/26/13 05:25 AM Re: Marco Gonzalez officially becomes a National Park [Re: Marty]  
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Since the Marco Gonzalez Archaeological Site was recorded in 1984, many archaeologists have traveled to Ambergris Caye to unravel the mystery of the ancient Mayas that once inhabited the area. According to archaeologists Marco Gonzalez is the largest Maya site on the island, with the entire island of Ambergris Caye experiencing Maya activity at one time, including the current town core.

Doctor Elizabeth Graham, Professor of Mesoamerican Archaeology at University College London, UK, is on Ambergris Caye analyzing the ancient artifacts that have been excavated from the site. A visitor to the island since 1976, Dr. Graham has grown very interested in the Marco Gonzalez Archaeological Site since the first excavation in 1986. Her main objective is to learn how the Mayas from the island lived, traded and how their daily activities impacted the environment on the island. “We are doing some testing of the soil and the black soil in Marco Gonzalez area is exceptional. Previous tests that have been done show that there is as much carbon as there is in the Terra Preta soil, which is a very rich type of soil that is very cultivable,” stated Dr. Graham on the soil composition of the area. The Terra Preta soil is a type of dark, fertile soil that is found in the Amazon Basin. According to Dr. Graham, the type of soil of the area can tell a lot about the way of life the Mayas used to live.

Dr. Graham explained that the site was occupied by different groups of people, “The site was occupied for a very long period of time, different people at different times. Most of the artifacts we have now are from a period of about 750 AD to 900 AD.” Dr. Graham also explained how the site can prove to be as old as 250 BC, “So many people have lived in this area, the evidence from Soil Testing at Marco Gonzalez-3Marco Gonzalez can date back to 250-300 BC, but all that material is below sea level.” There is also evidence that the people from the site were mainly traders. “There was no Maya collapse here, and I think we are looking at traders who never lost out even when the Maya world saw the political collapse. The Mayas along the coast suffered mostly when the European conquerors came.” According to Dr. Graham, the Mayas of the area may have been salt traders, a very lucrative business back then, “We are hoping to find the salt pans, because we believe that the Mayas were processing salt for a couple of hundreds of years and exporting it to the mainland. We know that they were importing quartz sand from the mainland to make vessels, where they were putting the salt brine to dry off the water to produce salt cakes.” According to Dr. Graham, brine was placed into these specially made pots which were then heated to evaporate all the water, leaving just the salt in the pottery. The pottery was then broken to reach the salt cake, leaving pieces of the pottery evidence behind.

There is still much work left to be done to fully verify the life the Mayas once lived here on Ambergris Caye. Dr. Graham has applied for a grant from the Leverhulme Foundation in the UK to further the exploration and development of the site. Part of the money from the grant, if it were to be approved, would go to hiring a botanist to record all the vegetation of the area since it goes hand in hand with the type of soil found in the area. Dr. Graham will be leaving the island on Monday April 29th.

For more information on the Marco Gonzalez Archaeological Reserve or to book a tour contact Jan Brown at phone number 662-2725 or email

San Pedro Sun

#469932 - 08/10/13 05:27 AM Re: Marco Gonzalez officially becomes a National Park [Re: Marty]  
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The Marco Gonzalez Maya Site located on the south end of Ambergris Caye can safely be called one of the island’s hidden treasures. The 2,000 year old site is a relatively virgin site in comparison to the excavation work that has been done on other sites throughout Belize. However since 1984 Dr. Elizabeth Graham has been leading archaeological studies to the site and has been making great progress in unveiling bits and pieces of the marvels of Marco Gonzalez.

MDr. Graham is once again on Ambergris Caye, this time accompanied by a team of three archaeologists from University College London (UCL), studying the soil at Marco Gonzalez. Observations done over the years have led to recognition of the notably fertile land on the grounds. Dr. Graham, along with the team of archaeologists comprised of paleolimnologist Simon Turner, soil micro morphologist Richard McPhail, and graduate student Lindsey Duncan along with Marco Gonzalez’s site team are now studying and determining the soil components and micro structures, and also measuring the botanical materials from different soil samples within the site, thus identifying correlation to the lush vegetation native to Marco Gonzalez. While excavating, the team unearthed the skeletal remains of an indigenous person. Through previous burial patterns exhumed at Marco, it has been concluded that the inhabitants of this site buried their dead along with pottery beneath the floor of their housing, with bodies lying upwards and heads to the side. This was the burial particularly typical to Marco Gonzalez, while at other sites throughout the country the bodies may have been buried face down or in other positions.

Dr. Graham along with Lindsey Duncan, have been on Ambergris Caye conducting studies at the site since July 22nd and they were later joined by Dr. Turner and Dr. McPhail on August 2nd. While the team has only limited time on the island, they are working very diligently and are dedicated to unveiling new milestones as it relates to progression in the mysteries of Marco Gonzalez.

San Pedro Sun

#491292 - 05/23/14 11:13 AM Re: Marco Gonzalez officially becomes a National Park [Re: Marty]  
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Ambassador to the Past Program takes students into Marco Gonzalez Maya Site

Students from three primary schools on Ambergris Caye participated in the Ambassador to the Past Program in which they were taken to visit the Marco Gonzalez Maya Site. The program is headed by Dr Scott Simmons of the University of North Carolina in Wilmington, USA and Galen University in Belize. The Ambassador to the Past Program is a grant aided initiative that is in its third year and is aimed at connecting students with the Maya cultural history of the island through archeology.

Archeology students from Galen University also joined Dr Simmons in explaining the role that sites like Marco Gonzalez played. Marco Gonzalez served as a trading center for the travelling Maya. Over the past two weeks, the students from Holy Cross Anglican School, Isla Bonita Elementary and Ambergris Caye Elementary School were divided into groups of 12. Once on site, they were further divided into three separate groups where the “junior archeologists,” led by a group leader, toured the area. “We want them connect with the past; this is their own cultural history, the island’s history. This will help them to understand that the past is still here alive and it’s a part of their heritage and who they are,” explained Dr. Simmons.

Click here to read the rest of the article and see more photos in the San Pedro Sun

#492434 - 06/18/14 07:11 AM Re: Marco Gonzalez officially becomes a National Park [Re: Marty]  
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MARCO GONZALEZ ARCHAEOLOGICAL RESERVE Invites you to observe the SUMMER SOLSTICE Saturday, June 21st, 10am Maya priest Martin Choc, presiding Pablo Collado, Flautist, entertaining Maya food* Beverages for sale Admission: Park Fees apply Bring blanket or towel to sit on our the site - learn about the Coastal Traders

#492681 - 06/24/14 04:18 PM Re: Marco Gonzalez officially becomes a National Park [Re: Marty]  
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Maya Magic at Marco Gonzalez Site
And so it was on Saturday, June 21st when Maya priest Martin Choc, by invitation of site director Jan Brown and the Board of Directors, held a summer solstice ceremony and blessing of the Marco Gonzalez Maya Site located five miles south of San Pedro Town. Renowned flautist and musician Pablo Collado’s ethereal music captivated the guests as they arrived for the 10AM ceremony. With more than 40 people in attendance, and half as many participating in the ceremony, people from all corners of the earth stood shoulder to shoulder in a circle around an urn of burning incense and the demure, weathered man who spoke in his native tongue of Q’eqchi Mayan. Choc first blessed the area, fanning it with holy water using a palm frond while he walked around the Main Plaza where the ceremony took place. Then, holding candles and enchanted by his words, the circle stood silent, with only the sounds of birds, the burning incense and his blessings to be heard. After the ten-minute ceremony each person was asked to return their flaming candle to the burning incense urn, and the group was told that the vessel must remain there for three days, undisturbed. The ending ritual was punctuated with the soft drumming of Collado.

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