Archaeological site in Benque Viejo del Carmen now being excavated Print E-mail
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Friday, 05 June 2015 00:00

A new excavation on an archaeological site in Benque Viejo del Carmen has begun. As part of the US Ambassador’s Cultural Preservation Grant fund, the preservation of the archaeological site now employs several Benque Viejo residents. On our most recent visit to the Benque Site, which is located by the Belize Water Services Ltd Pump in Benque Viejo, both Carlos Mendez and Merli Alfaro, as well as other workers were busy exposing the façade of a site that is now believed to have been the household of a rural Maya elite family. The archaeological site itself may have been part of a network derived from the ancient city of Xunantunich, which can be viewed about a kilometer to the northwest from atop a mound at the Benque site.

According to George Thompson, Associate Director for Belize’s Parks Management, work began on the Benque Viejo site about a month ago to do regular excavation in an effort to expose the architecture. He said that the final step will be to conserve the site so that it becomes part of a heritage trail.

Former Peace Corps Volunteer Subrata Basu, who has been proposing a heritage trail for Benque for many years has cited that the Benque Site is just one of the many projects that he and his team have been able to identify and apply for funding as part of a tourism initiative.

“….very exited and happy for Benque Viejo,” he writes.

“Much gratitude to the Institute of Archaeology, Jaime Awe, the US Embassy and the then US Ambassador Vinay Thummalapally,” he also writes.

Whenever the excavation at the Benque Archaeological Site is completed, it will become a major additional attraction to Benque Viejo del Carmen as Towns folks adapt to make Benque a tourist attraction for both locals and foreigners as well. Taxi men have pointed out that tourists have been taking Benque as a route and the Benque Site will now be another reason for them to stop and admire Belize’s cultural heritage.