Underwater structure near Salt Creek Lagoon, and a bit about Salt Creek Maya Archaeological Site
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Friday June 7, 2019

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From The Geography of Fishing in British Honduras and Adjacent Coastal Areas. 1966
by Alan Knowlton Craig, Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College.

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Underwater structure near Salt Creek Lagoon, and a bit about Salt Creek Maya Archaeological Site

Dr. Allan Knowlton Craig did his dissertation on “The Geography of Fishing in British Honduras and Adjacent Coastal Areas” in 1966. His research was based on cultural geography of the area including Belize. The purpose of this post is not to discuss his dissertation, but to point out an area near the Salt Creek Lagoon where a portion of his study was conducted and not mentioned in his study. In his study, he describes how rich the Salt Creek Lagoon area is with Maya archaeological ruins. He did mentioned that some of his maps were made with the aid of aerial photography; however, while looking at the area on Google Map, depicted on his Salt Creek Lagoon map, I noticed a structure extending from the shore some 1.2 miles out to sea (See second picture). Most of the structure is submerged with potions of it looking like a chain of islands. This structure would not have been noticeable from the sea level, only from the air. With the help of Google Distance Locator the structure seems to be about 80 to 90 feet wide in areas. Since the area was rich in Maya Artefacts, I wonder if this structure could have been some kind of ancient Maya causeway. What was the intended purpose of the structure? The structure doesn’t seem to go to anywhere specific - just extended out to sea. I am in the belief that Dr. Craig may have missed an important Maya Archaeological find..

Salt Creek Maya Archaeological Site

by Albert Paul Avila

In his book "The Geography of Fishing in British Honduras and Adjacent Coastal Areas." (1966). Dr. Alan Knowlton Craig wrote about the large numbers of archaeological sites in the Salt Creek Area of Belize (East of Sandhill). He said there were some very large archaeological structures in the area along the coast. There was a site he came upon along the coast and based on its foot print it may have been one of the largest sites in Belize known up to that time. He said there was an Island in the lagoon (arrow) that was littered with broken pottery.

I had always heard great things about Tulum in Mexico. So, a few years ago, on my way to Cancun, we stopped at Tulum to see what all the fuss was about. I remembered not being that impressed by the structure of the Mayan temple itself, but more so by the location of the structure. The structure was smack in the middle of a large white sandy beach only a few feet away from some of the most beautiful turquoise water I had ever seen. It was then that I realized what all the fuss was about.

I always thought that if we could excavate the Salt Creek area, that area could become a tourist destination that could rival Tulum. Lamanai is beautiful because you could see the lagoon, but these sites at Salt Creek would have the view of the beautiful Caribbean Sea similar to Tulum.

Here is one of the archaeological sites just waiting for us to explore. Could the particular structure shooting above the trees in the photo be the site that Dr. Craig spoke about in his book?


This is a unexcavated Mayan temple near the Coast in an area called Salt Creek which is East of Sandhill. In that area right in the shoreline and covered in mangrive I have seen a series of mounds in otherwise swamp. The ground is littered with countless pieces of broken pottery. 2000 years ago imagine the sea level 12 to 20" lower. What is swamp now was dry land. Maybe trading in sea produce.

From Salt Creek all the way pass Bomba up through Willy eastwards to Shipstern is filled with some huge structures. most of them have been looted over the years and there is lots of broken pottery over the place. Most of the temples have been looted. Even the main tomb at the "mask temple" has been destroyed. Now it's mostly mounds covered with forest. The archeology dept sent some guys in 2016 to check the mounds. The most visible is the mask, because that temple has been looted over and over again. In the Salt Creek Lagoon entrance, further in the distance is what definitely looks to be a Mayan Mound on the sea side. Between Vista and Salt Creek lots of pottery chards from the salt mining.

This is a known archaeological site. There are many sites on the coast, interior and on the islands that have tourism potential. More importantly, they are also at risk of looting. Sometimes the best approach for these sites is insitu preservation and careful scientific excavation. These sites represent important aspects of our history that need to be preserved. We have lost too much of our history to continue the looting and careless excavation.

There are two large structures in the middle of Shipstern Lagoon. I' ve been working in the shiptern area for 13 years now. In fact Kakantulix which is the largest is higher than Cerros. Yet it hasn't been excavated but looted. Then there is a Mayan road that links the "Ramonal" area with the sea. The road is actually a causeway, it has all the features of a Mayan road like those in Tikal and elsewhere. A lot of these causeways were used in modern time by the people who pull logs out of that area. A lot of the roads back there now are referred to as logging roads. It has squared blocks made of limestone on either side, and filled with "white marl'. Usually elevated, better than the ones "engineers" build today.

The area was notorious for harbouring marijauna plantations back in the mid 80' and early 90's. Made a come back in the middle of the last decade as a transhipment stop for cocaine trafficking. There was also two "10" tonne tractors there. Mennonites took them and all the wreckage of airplane in the area that had been there a long time.

You pop out at the sea right behind San Pedro. You can go thru Bomba up the coast and sometimes trhu Santa Martha to these areas. So beautiful and so much history. The area we call it "salera" because of the salt wells there.

Photographs by Dr. Allan Knowlton Craig

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