Mayan Magick


Maya Post Classic Period of  Northern Belize


            This geographical area of Belize has yielded the most important results relating to the Postclassic period. For example, sites at Lamanai and Santa Rita have revealed evidence of occupation, especially through the remains of domestic architecture. The site at Santa Rita is quite probably the ancient settlement of Chetumal which, as has been stated elsewhere, was part of the League of Mayapan. The ruler of Santa Rita (Chetumal) was a warlord named Nachacan.

            Santa Rita was sited along a trade route, along the coast. Access to inland centres such as Lamanai and other settlements in the Petén was provided by the Río Hondo and New River. The site of Santa Rita was settled from around 1000 B.C. In the Late Preclassic period, the settlement expanded. Agriculture was prominent.

            Another important area that was occupied during the Postclassic period was that of the Progresso Lagoon. Investigations at Caye Coco by Marilyn Mason have yielded evidence of mounds, which are remains of buildings. The evidence suggests that the inhabitants were linked to the northern Maya site of Mayapan. The residents of the area were also linked to the northern centres of Chichén Itzá. The investigations also indicate that the history of Progresso continued into the era of Spanish expansion during the 17th century.

            Just below the Progresso Lagoon area, other small coastal sites have been located in the central and northeastern seaboard of Belize, which provide evidence of habitation during the Middle to Late Postclassic periods. These coastal sites have yielded evidence of salt making and housing.

            The site at Colha (located some 20 km west of the coastline and bisected by Rancho Creek), situated along the old northern highway, seems to have specialized in stone craft. Its history of occupation includes the several phases of the Postclassic, extending from Early Postclassic A.D. to Late Postclassic (A.D. 1300-1400).

            Other regions of habitation during the Postclassic period of Maya civilization in Belize include the Three Rivers region in Northwestern Belize, with sites such as the Milpa, Blue Creek, Chan Chich, Dos Hombres, and Ambergris Caye. A few of these sites have yielded evidence of Maya occupation, such as construction. At Lamanai, however, excavations have been impressive in their yields, such as artwork of crocodiles on buildings and on pottery vessels. Investigations have also yielded the find of a temple built in the sixth century (Early Classic Period), on which modifications were made subsequently.

            Colonial churches were also constructed by the Spaniards with the entry of Christianity in the sixteenth century. Ruins of church buildings still remain.


            This paper by Morris and Awe is aimed at contributing to what the authors have stated as “a heightened interest by scholars in the Postclassic Maya”. They note that as cities, such as Tikal and Caracol, were abandoned in the Terminal Classic, others in the north such as Uxmal, Kabah, and Chichén Itzá, became prominent.

            During the Postclassic period, trade and contact became increasingly widespread. Changes occurred, but the entire Maya region was not abandoned, as the archaeological work in Belize has demonstrated.

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