Dr. Elizabeth Graham
Maya Archaeology Expert, Royal Ontario Museum

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National Environmental Appraisal Committee (NEAC)
c/o Department of the Environment
Government Offices
Belmopan, Belize

To the Committee:

I am writing as an archaeologist who has worked in Belize for over thirty years, and who is extremely concerned about the area to be affected by the Chalillo Dam.  If dam construction proceeds, it is absolutely essential that a proper archaeological survey and requisite excavations be conducted in the area.  Not only is such a survey consonant with Belize’s antiquities laws, and with Belize’s long-time policy towards ancient Maya remains, but it is also unthinkable that such large-scale construction would be planned without the requisite surveys.  Almost all modern financial aid packages in developed countries require such surveys, and it behooves the Belize government not to expect less in this case.

Belize’s cultural heritage has a time depth exhibited by few countries in the world, and its continuity with the past is matched only by ancient Egypt and North China.  In addition, some of the richest and most complex Maya sites are located in various zones in the region in which the dam is planned.

I encourage the Committee in the strongest terms to give the cultural heritage of Belize its due by promoting a rigorous survey and investigation of the zone to be affected by the dam.  Not only is this owed to Belize’s Maya, but to all of Belize’s inhabitants, because destruction without record of such a rich and rare past can only impoverish Belize’s future.

Yours sincerely,

Elizabeth Graham, Ph.D.
Lecturer, Institute of Archaeology
Director, Lamanai Archaeological Project

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