Cerros ("Spanish for Hill") Archaeological Reserve is more than 53 acres on the
top of a hill overlooking Chetumal Bay. Cerros is across Chetumal Bay from
Corozal. Cerros sits on a peninsula at the mouth of the New River that empties
into Chetumal Bay. Cerros served as an link between the coastal canoe trading
routes that circumnavigated the Yucatán Peninsula and inland waterways. Cerros
is a Pre-Classic (350 BC - 250 AD) Maya coastal trading center of more than 50
acres. Cerros is one of only two Pre-Classic Maya sites with no later additions
to its structures. There are 5 temples with adjacent plazas, two ball courts and
an extensive canal system with raise field agriculture.
Adjacent to the south
side of the site is a crescent-shaped canal system that encloses the central
portion of the site and includes several raised fields. Residential areas
continue to the south of this canal system, radiating southwest and southeast.
There have been a number of raised fields identified outside of the canal
system. The tallest pyramid platform is 72 feet tall. Cerros probably did not
exceed 2,000 inhabitants.
Cerros was first occupied some time prior to
350 BC. Cerros was a small village of farmers, fishermen and traders. They took
advantage of the fertile soils, increased the amount of arable land by creating
raised fields from soils excavated to form canals. Cerros had easy access to the
sea and inland waterways. The population of Cerros produced abundant food store,
manufactured finished goods and traded these items with the other Maya in the
Sometime around 50 BC the population of Cerros began to experiment with
the concept of kingship. The inhabitants entered a period of urban renewal. They
burying some of their homes, raised fields and canals to make room for a group
of temples and plazas. The first new construction project was the building of
the pyramid platform at the northern most point of the sacred north/south
axis.This has become the most famous structure at this site. The southern most
point of the sacred north/south axis sat the ball court. New temples were
constructed to honor the passing of power from one king to another. The last
monumental construction projected began prior to 100 AD. Many of the existing
structure of the site appear to have been abandoned prior to the completion of
this last project. It appears that any new construction was limited to
residential units, canals and raised fields.
Cerros appears to have been
abandoned by 400 AD.
Cerros provides a 360 degree view of the
surrounding region. The New River is a habitat for a variety of wildlife that
includes more that 100 species of birds, crocodiles and manatee. Open 8:00 AM to
5:00 PM, entrance fee of $3.00 US. The site may be reach by heading northeast
from Orange Walk heading through San Estevan, Progresso and Copperbank to Cerros
at roads end. Cerros is about 1 hour from Orange Walk. The site provides
restrooms, water, and a covered picnic area.
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