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HISTORY > The Maya in Stann Creek 

In spite of all the work that has been carried out in the Stann Creek District, little is known of the Maya in this region. A few sites have been investigated, including the Pomona Site and a few mounds around the Sittee River including the Kendal site. A third site, centered around a beautiful stream and water fall along the Silk Grass Creek is called the Mayflower complex and includes two very minor ceremonial (if ceremonial at all) centers called Maintzunun and T'au Witz.


Maintzunun, which means "small hummingbird", is too small to be considered even a minor ceremonial center, yet too large to be a simple residential structure. The first building at the site must have involved substantial labour and quarrying because large amounts of sand and boulders were used to construct the series of platforms which were eventually topped with pole and thatch buildings.

Evidence suggests that a large pit was dug in front of this structure and burnt offerings of food were made to the gods. A later phase of occupation of the site was destroyed by fire. Other excavations have recovered a small cylindrical incised vessel around which a platform was built to support another thatch building. Such small details at these minor archaeological sites help to paint a picture of the every day life of the ordinary Mayan.


Most of the Mayflower complex is still covered by bush (see image above). Very little work has been done here except for a few test pits and some mapping. The site was first mapped in 1975.

Areas to the south and west of the site have been planted with gmelina trees and is the only reason the site was ever found. Looking from the creek or walking past the site, there is nothing that makes Maintzunun look like anything other than another small hill.

Despite the paucity of information, some conjecture can be made about the Mayflower site. Due to the size and arrangement of the platforms built up of earth, boulders and sand as well as the careful terracing and construction of retaining walls imply that the Mayflower Complex was a focal point for some kind of important local activity (see map of site).

The second Mayflower site called Tau Witz (meaning "dwelling of a local god of the hill" is a small flat area or platform of artificial construction. Small peices of pottery, a small stela and altar were unearthed here, yet the information gained was far too little to either date or make any comment on the status of this site.

As is the case with the rest of Belize, Maya are the indigenous population of Stann Creek. Historically they had significant settlements at the foot of the Maya Mountains where they subsisted on farming, fishing and working in and around the logging operations that were scattered throughout the area.

24 families were moved to Maya Center at the entrance to the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary in 1986, where they've grown to a population of nearly three hundred, many of whom are employed by the reserve. Sharing their ancient arts with visitors through the sale of souvenirs and handicrafts, Maya Center represents the largest concentration of Maya Indians in Stann Creek.

Stann Creek History Garifuna History

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