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From 400 B.C. to 100 A.D., Cerros, or Cerro Maya, or “Maya Hill” was a pivotal coastal trading center. Cerro gives us an opportunity to look at a time in Maya past and that being the pre-classic period. Cerro Maya was first occupied around 500 B.C., and development continued into the first century after Christ, in the time that we call the late pre-classic period. Cerros Maya is one of only two pre-classic sites in Belize. There were no later additions to this site nor to its structures. Cerros gives you the opportunity to look at what the Maya were during that time period.

Maya civilization was fully developed before the birth of Christ, Maya writing is already being used before the birth of Christ, mathematics, calendrics, studies in astronomy and other scientific achievements, all made before the birth of Christ, and Cerros is one of those places where this comes to light. The Maya were way ahead of their times in terms of their achievements, more so than anybody had previously thought. Belize boasts hundreds of Mayan sites, but archaeologists have discovered that Cerros is one of the few pre-classic sites with ball courts, indicating its prestige at such an early time. For much of its history the site was an important trading center probably based on this sea-borne import of jade and obsidian. Its early decline was possibly few to the general shift of trade routes connecting the highlands and lowlands in the early classic.

Cerro Maya is located on a peninsula across from the town of Corozal and in the Bay of Chetumal. Archaeologists believe Cerros must not have survived long because of a shift in trade routes. At the height of its day, the city distributed salt from mining communities and traded chert tools. Today, Cerros is partially underwater, but what remains is stunning – including five temples (one that is 72 feet high) and related plazas, a large canal system and a beautiful panoramic viewed from the top of the temples.

Cerro Maya reserve comprises a total of 52 acres and includes 3 large architectural complexes dominating several plazas flanked by pyramidal like structures. Tombs and ball courts have been excavated and artifacts found within them attest to the importance of the site between 400 BC and A.D. 100. This site’s proximity to the sea has resulted in the erosion of two large structures.

Cerros can be reached by a short boat ride from Corozal Town. Boats can be hired in town from your hotel guest services. One can drive to Cerros by road crossing the ferry at the south side of the town. Enroute to Cerros one passes such picturesque points of interest, on the lagoon side, villages such as Chunox, Progresso and Copper Bank. This site is located within an area of extensive wetlands, therefore, it is advisable to use insect repellent and, if possible, long sleeve shirts and trousers.     ~ Anthony Benjamin


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