History of the Institute of Archaeology

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1894The ‘Ancient Monuments Protection Ordinance’ was passed. The law was limited in that it only recognized and protected monuments sited on land owned by the Belizean government.
1924The 'Ancient Monuments and Relics Ordinance' was made into law. The legislation established the first set of conditions for archaeological research in Belize. However, the Ordinance was reflective of the Colonial era, with sites remaining in the private ownership of the landholders and 50% of archaeological finds becoming the property of the archaeologist or sponsoring institution. Subsequently, many Belizean monuments and artifacts were exported to Universities and museums in Great Britain, Canada, and the United States.
1928 The 'Antiquities Ordinance' was passed. This legislation dealt with the acquisition of antiquities by the Belizean government and made it illegal to export antiquities without written permission from the Governor in Council.
1952 Alexander Hamilton Anderson, the Government District Commissioner for Cayo, was appointed as the First Assistant Secretary General with responsibility for archaeology, and the ‘Antiquities Ordinance’ was amended.
1958Archaeological Commissioner Anderson drafted amendments to the 'Antiquities Ordinance' which were enacted.
1967A.H. Anderson retired and David Pendergast temporarily acted as Archaeological Commissioner.
1968 Peter Schmidt assumed the position of Archaeological Commissioner.
1970 The 'Ancient Monuments and Antiquities Ordinance' was revised and enacted
1971 Joseph Palacio was appointed as the first Belizean Archaeological Commissioner. The 'Ancient Monuments and Antiquities Ordinance,' Chapter 259 of the Subsidiary Laws of Belize was unanimously passed
1977Joseph Palacio departed to pursue further studies and Jaime Awe followed by Elizabeth Graham temporarily acted as Archaeological Commissioner.
1979Harriot Topsey, (deceased), was appointed as the second Belizean Archaeological Commissioner.

Under the guidance of past Archaeological Commissioners; Winnel Branche (deceased), Allan Moore, Jaime Awe , John Morris, Brian Woodye and George Thompson, the DoA gained greater visibility and prestige as an institution on the cutting edge of research, management and the development of archaeology in Belize.

2000The 'National Institute of Culture and History Act,' Chapter 331 of the Subsidiary Laws of Belize was passed and the "Ancient Monument and Antiquities Ordinance" was repealed
2003the National Institute of Culture and History, was created. The DoA became the Institute of Archaeology (IA) with Dr. Jaime Awe as the Director.


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