Doctor Elizabeth Graham is no stranger to archeological projects carried out in Belize, in fact she along with her husband were amongst the first to conduct studies of the Marco Gonzalez Site in San Pedro in the 80’s and 90’s. Graham was on Ambergris Caye last week with an interest to return later this year to start research works on Marco Gonzalez. Graham who is conducting research on mainland Belize on the invitation of the Archeology Department took time out to visit the Marco Gonzalez Site with the coordination of Janet Brown. Brown, as readers may recall, last year launched a project that would see Marco Gonzalez turned into an archeological attraction.
As part of her visit to Ambergris Caye, Graham along with members of her team visited Marco Gonzalez Maya Site in the southern tip of the Caye to collect soil samples that would be tested abroad. In speaking to The Sun, Graham stated that the environmental characteristics of Marco Gonzalez are quite interesting and have a lot to do with the prehistory and history of the site. While acting as Belize Archeological Commissioner in the 80’s, Graham stated that along with her husband, she conducted a lot of studies of the site at Marco Gonzalez. Those studies according to Graham suggest a lot about the continuous occupation of the location but extensive research and excavation has still yet to be done.
Now that she has a team that is willing to conduct studies and with the work spearheaded by Brown, Graham stated that she is really optimistic. “I have a team of scientists that wants to apply their perspective and conduct research on the site. Seeing the various input and interest to know more about the site, I am really optimistic and happy,” stated Graham. Those studies will center on the soil and environmental conditions that contributed to the history behind Marco Gonzalez.
Chief Archeologist in the Archeology Department Doctor Jaime Awe stated that because of the unique and particular history of Marco Gonzalez Site, any work to learn more about the occupation of the Mayas on the site at Marco Gonzalez is welcome. “We welcome any development of the site to have it as a park. It’s an opportunity to present information on how the Mayas exploited the marine resources,” stated Awe. He added that, “there is no other site, with those particular and unique features, that can present the story of how the Maya used the sea in the way that the Marco Gonzalez site can.” While initial studies do not show elaborate infrastructure, archeologists believe that the Mayas that inhabited Marco Gonzalez did extensive trading to larger sites such as Chichen Itza and Lamanai and to other sites on the Pacific coast of El Salvador and Guatemala.
Both Doctors Awe and Graham stated that evidence suggest that the Mayas that lived at Marco Gonzalez traded sea produce such as shells and conchs for music and jewelry and salt for consumption. Evidence also suggests the changes in global conditions eventually contributed to the population’s decline after sea level slow claimed solid ground around Marco Gonzalez; a story that is worth telling explained both Awe and Graham.
For the time being, Graham is in the process of getting the necessary permits to conduct research at Marco Gonzalez. “We know that Graham has Belize at heart and has contributed a lot to the Archeology Department so both as a professional and as a person we will have no problem in assisting her in her next research,” stated Doctor Awe. Graham’s work is expected to compliment the work that Brown is engaged with. In speaking to Brown, she explained to The Sun that work has been put on hold until the boundaries between the site and South Beach Belize investment are redefined and finalized. Those works are being spearheaded by the Area Representative Honorable Manuel Heredia but have, as or press time, remained on a standstill stated Brown. As it is, Brown explained that they are about to restart works at Marco Gonzalez.