Tuesday, 28 February 2012

New faces at the IA

Here at the Institute of Archaeology we deal with all things ancient, from temples and old pots to colonial bottles and tobacco pipes. Sometimes, however, we do get new finds and new things coming our way, such as bright and eager new employees. We welcome aboard Ms. Sylvia Batty to the ranks, being quite sure she will add her own unique flavor to our varied crew.
"The older you get the quicker time seems to pass by.

While writing this I took the time to reflect on my employment at the IA, schooling and my volunteer work.

I feel so at home in my cozy section of the Research Department at the IA, but I’ve only been behind this desk for 5 days (4 days really, day 1 was an all day trip to Belize City).  Looking back at the years it took me to get here; I can safely say that it’s been a crazy ride.
I started doing volunteer archaeology at age 10. I had always been fascinated with nature and the ‘stories’ behind everything that I saw and touched. I wanted to know more, and I spent a good part of my childhood simply trying to figure out the bigger picture behind everything. After that first field season, I gave up a few weeks of every summer to be in the field. At age 20 I now have 10 years of being in the field, and I’m looking forward to another 10.
Sylvia settles in
Over the years my reasons for doing Archaeology and the direction that I will take with it has been constantly evolving. I started out simply wanting to know more. I wanted to know every aspect of the life of the Ancient Maya. I also wanted to piece together the global history of the prehistoric world. At 15 I knew which areas of archaeology I didn’t want to specialize in but I couldn’t figure out what area I would specialize in. Day 1 as a History major at SJCJC taught me that too many youths did not have respect for their cultural patrimony; I was 17. This led me to explore the perception of archaeology among my peers from an anthropological perspective. I am still appalled by their lack of respect and appreciation for their cultural patrimony. This was also the first time I had an interest in the historic archaeology of Belize.  I would like to thank Ms. Amauri Amoa, Mr. Elizardo Ricalde, Ms. Ritamae Hyde, Ms. Meg Craig and Mr. Nigel Encalada for giving me my induction into the study of history, historic archaeology and ethnography.
 At age 19, after being constantly frustrated by tertiary school Belizean students who were ignorant of their History, I finally realized what I wanted to do in this field. I want to, need to, I will, bridge the gap between researcher and student. It is my hope that proper knowledge of the History of Belize will foster a greater sense of civic pride in all citizens of this country. That is my small contribution to the saga of Archaeology (both Pre-Colombian and Historic) in Belize.
Cynthia Robin-Rivera, Laura Kosakowsky, Nick Hearth, Jason Yeager, Kat Brown, Sherry Gibbs, Jaime Awe, John Morris, thank you all for your mentorship."

Friday, 24 February 2012

Imagine - your own private collection

"If I find something, I wah tek that!" This is a phrase heard often enough in Belize, when people talk about possibly finding artifacts on their properties. Another one we usually get is "How much will you pay me for that?" The truth is, the artifacts are priceless, but not in the way you might imagine. A simple red bowl or colonial bottle may seem to have no real monetary value, but its value to history and our patrimony as a nation is priceless.

We have all seen or heard the stories of people trying to sell items on the black market, some of them getting caught and being charged. There are also the many rumors that if something is found on your property, that it shall be confiscated and your lande title revoked. Rest assured, these are just rumors. The really interesting thing that lots of people don't know, is that they can help in the fight against the black market and even 'own' a piece of such history. Own a piece of history? How is this possible you ask? It takes one simple process, the registration of antiquities. Many people out there have found artifacts such as vessels, arrowheads, old bottles and the like on their properties, perhaps when bulldozing or digging. Sometimes people inherit manos and metates from their parents or grandparents. Perhaps somewhere in a box in the shed or basement is a nice array of colonial bottles and inkpots. And yes, you can keep these legally.

The process of registration simply allows the Institure of Archaeology to have a record of the antiquities one may possess and to issue a proper license for said antiquities. That's it! More and more people are coming to us with stuff they have but were too scared to mention. Well now you all know, there is nothing to fear, well except fear itself. So if you have antiquities, or you are not sure, call us at 822-2106 or email us at iaresearch57@gmail.com and let us know. Help us preserve our nation's long and proud history. Help us stop the illegal selling of our nation's treasures. Help us contribute to the ever growing and changing knowledge of the history of this proud and beautiful nation, Belize.