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2nd Place, 2008

Abandoned Sugar Mill at Lamanai, Belize

James Meierhoff, Anthropology

This photograph is of an American-made, British-owned 19th century sugar mill that was constructed at the Maya site called Lamanai in Belize, Central America. Lamanai is unique for the fact that it was among a handful of large Maya sites that were not abandoned during the great Maya collapse circa 1200AD. This site was chosen for sugar production in the 19th century due to its location along the New River, as well as a cheap exploitable work force of rural Maya still living near by. However, the Maya soon rebelled against poor treatment and low wages, the English owners were ravaged by jungle diseases, and the mill was abandoned. I visited this site my first year in Belize while I was a supervisor on an excavation at a Classic Maya site called Chan. However, it was this interaction between the Maya of Lamanai and the British colonizers (symbolized by the sugar mill) that first piqued my interest in the living descendants of the Maya, and their interactions with other culture groups after the conquest. I am currently working with Dr. Joel Palka to study the historical archaeology of an unconquered Maya group called the Lacandon, who live in southern Chiapas, Mexico.