Cerros (Cerro Maya) – “Maya Hill” (43 acres)
With a Spanish name that translates to “Maya Hill”, Cerro Maya is located on a peninsula across from the town of Corozal and in the Bay of Chetumal. Archaeological research at the site suggests that it functioned as an important coastal trading center during the Late Preclassic Period (c.a 350 B.C. to A.D. 250). Its tallest temple rises 21 meters above the plaza floor and overlooks the Caribbean Sea which has been steadily eroding numerous prehistoric buildings along the north coast of the site.
Thomas Gann (1900) was the first to recognize Cerro Maya as an archaeological site, but it was not until 1969 that it was officially registered by the then Belize Department of Archaeology. The site was eventually surveyed and excavated from 1973 to 1979 by David Friedel of Southern Methodist University. Freidel focused on the ceremonial precinct and its periphery, and on the influence of trade on the site’s development. In 1983 Cathy Crane, from the same university, tested the ancient canals and their associated structures. Debra Walker and her colleagues subsequently worked at Cerro Maya during the 1990’s and provided important information on the site’s Late to Terminal Classic occupation.
Artifact forms changed over time depending on stylistic preference and the activities performed. Cerros was initially home to a small hunting, fishing and trading village. Beginning around 50 B.C., a population boom is evident in the expansion of the site and construction of large stone pyramids with stucco mask façades. A key feature in this expansion was a boat dock, which later facilitated trade controlled by elite rulers.
Village occupation continued to surround the growing city, but by A.D. 250, it began to decline, and by A.D. 375 Cerros was abandoned. The site was not resettled until the Terminal Classic (ca. A.D. 800-900), when a small refugee population migrated north from central Guatemala. Thereafter, Cerros remained a small fishing and trading community up until colonial times
Cerros (as it is locally referred to) can be reached by a short boat ride from Corozal Town. Boats can be hired in town from your hotel guest services. Additionally one can drive to Cerro Maya by road passing such picturesque, lagoon side, villages 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.
365 days in the year from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm
Fees & reservations
Belizeans: BZD $5.00
Belizeans enter FREE on Sundays and Public and Bank Holidays, take along some form of ID.
School Groups and Government officials need to contact the IA office prior to their visit for official Pass for this site.