Archaeology at Chocolá
archaeological sites are of equal importance at Chocolá. The oldest
site is, of course, the ancient Maya city of Chocolá that lies beneath
the current village and stretches for miles into the countryside. It is
a great treasure that is threatened by urban growth and by weak
over-site and enforcement of patrimony laws by the Federal Agency
responsible for the protection of national monuments (IDAEH).
The second is the
industrial archaeological site of the old German “Coffee Finca Chocolá”
built in the 1890s. And it is our first archaeological target. We are
working to raise money and fund research, restoration and maintenance
of the old German Finca Chocolá because quite simply, it is the most at
risk of the elements and because its stabilization is critical to the
economic future of the people of Chocolá. The coffee beneficio is the
economic engine of the community.
coffee beneficio is a classic example late 19th century industrial
engineering which relied upon a water power to energize the complex
coffee processing technology and equipment. Much of modern technology
used in today’s processing plants is based on machinery inventions made
and first deployed at Chocolá. More importantly, the original equipment
is still in the coffee beneficio and is still being used to process
coffee. It is a living museum, albeit in severe need of repairs from
years of deferred maintenance.
Included in the
complex of old German buildings are a dozen major structures and many
residential structures. The main buildings include the coffee beneficio
itself, a huge machine shop, lumber mill, railroad station, hotel,
administrative headquarters, water wheel power house, pay house, coach
houses and more.
The community and Semillas work
together to operate a Community Learning Center and Library, a
children's library and computer learning laboratory. Guatemala’s noted
historian Regina Wagner and author of the definitive work on the
history of coffee in Guatemala has joined the effort to document and
restore these great buildings. Guatemalan architectural historian
Rodrigo Aparacio, who is a member of the board, is assisting in the
effort as is the Guatemalan industrial archaeologist Ruben Larios.
pre-classic Maya city that lies beneath Chocolá has been studied by
archaeologists on and off for decades. Work was stopped temporarily in
2006 as scholars search for new funds to support the work.
would like to establish a trust fund for the support of resuming
archaeological studies at Chocolá and to cover costs of “salvage
archaeology projects” for parts of the site that are periodically
threatened by urban expansion. The fund will be known as the Maya Site
at Chocolá and we welcome contributions to help protect and research
this important piece of human history.