Sunday, May 10, 2009

Anthropology and Archeology of Human habitation in Belize since the last Ice Age.

The high temple at Xunantunich from the ball court
Xunantunich frieze
Cahel Pech
Cahel Pech


By Ray Auxillou, May 2009 )

There is debate still about when the last Ice Age ended on our planet. General rule of thumb agrees between 14,000 and 11,000 years ago. Geological time is a lot longer than human life spans of 70 years. We know the climate was different in Belize for thousands of years. The remains of large animals have been found in different parts of the Belize landscape. Some of these large animals were Mammoths, Mastodons, giant sloths, bears and horses. We even find the tools and weapons that were used to hunt and kill them. These were usually obsidian knives, flint knives and spear points. The climate back then in the Ice Age, was one of a temperate zone, not the tropical zone of today.

Climatic change runs in cycles. The mini-cycles are about 400 years, 700 years, 1200 years, 1500 years and the longer one effecting humanity is around 3000 years. The ICE AGE cycle runs around 35,000 years with an INTER GLACIAL warming period, between ICE AGES for 12,000 to 15,000 years. We are now awaiting the latest climatic trigger that will start the next ICE AGE, as our inter glacial period is finishing. There are lots of theories, but nothing definite yet, of what trigger will start the next geological ICE AGE cycle.

The arguments for human existence, versus Darwinian evolution have never been resolved as of yet. What we know is; that there is a town site dated 11,000 years ago in Southern Patagonia of the American continent. There are a number of cities, described in the VEDAS of India, and three I believe have been excavated from beneath the Pakistani desert sands, that show civilized humans with hot water baths, sewage systems, running water to their homes going back 9000 years ago. There are similar ruins in Afghanistan and in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, which have not been excavated yet, but found by ground penetrating infra-red satellite photography under the deserts of today. We also know both humans and neantherdels interacted at the same time about 90,000 years ago, in the previous inter-glacial warming period, in a protected mountain valley in the Pyranees mountains of France and Spain. They were warmed in the Ice Ages by the Gulf Stream current that hits Europe about there, along the coast. ( DNA archeology paper two decades ago, done by Silvia Pinzon, now married and living in Belize in retirement ) Today’s Pakistan, parts of Afghanistan have similar ancient human occupation. There is fairly reliable evidence that humans have lived as we are on Planet Earth, 1.5 million years ago and some more evidence that even goes back to 14 million years ago. That is a lot of Ice Ages ago and much of the human evidence has long been lost, but here and there are ancient fossil records, which are impossible to ignore for the open mind.

Getting back to Belize, we know from archeological evidence that humans hunted animals in the ICE AGE here in Belize. At least the end of it. Dr. AWE, our Belizean archeological Phd, talks of the peoples living in Belize, back at the end of the last ICE AGE as paleo Indians, or ancient Indians, who were hunter gatherers. The hunter gatherer life style is a nice one and I have lived that life style myself. When I came to the then Colony of British Honduras in 1960, there were only about 35,000 people, mostly concentrated around the port town. Since 50 years have passed, the population is now around 311,000. The point I make is that a Hunter Gatherer life style depends on a small population, scattered in family, or small groups, with a surplus of ready food, in the form of marine life, and land animals to hunt. It is a very easy life style and I loved it while it lasted in former British Honduras. You could not starve. You were not rich in money, or material things, but the climate was mild, life fairly easy and food and shelter were easily found. What more could you want? The total world population at the end of the last Ice Age runs from estimates of 500,000 to 4 million people for our whole planet. People lived in small groups of families. There was plenty of food. The meals could become boring sometimes and many seasonal fruits would last for three months in Belize and then faze out. There was always some new substitute.

Dr AWE, Phd in archeology is claiming, that in Belize, the type of life for humans changed with the warming planet and expansion of the populations of humanity. This agrees with archeology all over planet Earth and this change seems to have occurred in a rush, about 6000 years ago. Presumably a sudden warming? We know that the Indus River was blocked by landslides in the Himalayas 9000 – 8000 years ago and the river was shunted into what today is India, turning Northern Pakistan into a desert, burying modern advanced style towns, comparable to the modern living of today. Climate change effected animal life and opened newer places to live on the planet. The major climate cycle for humanity is a 3000 year cycle. All over the world, human history mainly is recorded, where there was writing, from around the 5500 BC period onwards. Though in Pakistan, sheltered from the Ice Age by the Himalaya mountains, it goes back to 9000 years ago for writing. This flowering of humanity, is described by Dr. Awe as Archaic people. He means that people started to do part time farming, along with hunting, and staying in one location and formed larger living groups. They even started small towns and city states. Later around 5000 - 3500 years ago, large EMPIRES or political groups arose, as human populations exploded all over the Earth. There was a struggle for control of land and resources. Human population since the end of the Ice Age had risen from an estimate of half a million people back then in the world, to around 7 billion today.

Earliest towns in Belize started around Cahel Pech, where San Ignacio town is today, around 3500 years ago with a political center and organization, to control the human trade and economics between our Vaca Plateau, the Chiquibul plateau, the Maya mountains area, and the Belize River Valley. The Mayan Calendar is over 5000 years long and is to expire in 2012 around our current Christmas holiday. So the Mayan long calendar is evidence that Cahel Pech, a 3500 year old hilltop temple ruin site was probably superceded by smaller city states going back to the 5500 year period. What we have in Belize are political Mayan ruins going back to 3500 years ago. Cahel Pech here in Western Belize was built around 3500 years ago, which confirms the combination of farming and hunting as a life style. Remember, I myself was living a hunter gatherer life style on Caye Caulker ( a barrier reef island of 90 family homes ) during the 1960’s and 1970’s, in old British Honduras, the thinly populated British Colony of that day. Both in the Stann Creek District and southern Toledo District people still live today, the so called, ARCHAIC Indian life style. Which combines hunting and gathering and a bit of farming, or milpa, or plantation, depending on your ethnic background vocabulary.

The two hilltop Mayan ruins of Western Belize visited by guests from Falconview Backpackers Adventure Hostel, are Cahel Pech, which came first about 1500 BC in a pre-classic Mayan Empire and followed by the construction of Xununtanich, in the later CLASSIC MAYAN EMPIRE period of archeologists around 500 – 600 A.D. We know the huge Mayan temple ruin of CARACOL of the interior of Belize, existed back in the 500 to 600 A.D. period. Indeed, Caracol under the King Lord Waters conquered the King of TIKAL, Lord Double Bird in 562 A.D. Indeed, some 60 years later after the conquest of TIKAL, there was another battle, when Caracol had to invade and conquer the city state of Naranjo. So Belizean city state history goes back prior to the Minoans of the Mediterranean, the Greeks and the Roman Empires and the latter day European bandit chiefs eventually becoming Kings of feudal states in European history, ( the barbarian Europeans still have hereditary monarchs ) at a time when the city state political system of the Mayan Empire of Central America was going extinct after several thousand years of existance, leaving only hundreds of city state ruins and temples. The Maya were reverting back to the ARCHAIC Indian life style. Which is what I found in British Honduras, then a colony in 1960.

Ruins have been found at El Mirador, about a hundred miles from Belize in Guatemala, a city state bigger than New York City, that precedes even the CLASSICAL period of the Mayan Empire. While we can now read the hieroglyphs of the Classic Mayan Empire period in the last 1800 years or so, we cannot as yet read some of these more ancient Mayan hieroglyphs of an earlier time going back another few thousand years.

Most Mayan history for the tourist is relegated to recent history. Sort of the last Mayan Empire starting about the same time of the Roman Empire. This wound down around 900 A.D. about 1100 years ago and the Maya still living here, reverted to life with towns, but no feudal aristocracy with nobles. The last 500 years since 1502 have been the story of European invasions from Spain and Britain. What we have today is a mix of these last 500 years of Europeans interfering with established Mayan Indian life styles and government. It is only in Belize that I have found so far, TWO hilltop Mayan temple ruins that cover two different Mayan Empire periods and usually when I send tourists to Cahel Pech and Xununtanich, I ask them to study the differences in the architecture, for these two Mayan ruins so close together here in Western Belize covering 3,500 years of human history here and represent two different Mayan Empires. It has been 1108 years since the Classic Fuedal Mayan Empire was abandoned. Something to behold and ponder indeed. Belizeans are still here, we have some newer immigrant ethnic mixtures, but the Maya indians are still here, some modern and some living old style, with milpas, thatch huts and the good life of ancient times. You can still live the wonderful life of ancient times, in the hunter gatherer life style, but materialism has taken hold and those of African descent are introducing the more salaried tax ridden life style with European rules of living.
The Maya were smart and got rid of their bureaucracy, aristocrats and feudal lords a thousand years ago. Today we are ridden with taxes by the new ruling class, mostly from the port town old colonial capital. They are making laws to suit themselves and taxing us to death.

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