One can hardly speak about Runaway Creek without mentioning the cave artificats and paintings. Today we’re so accostomed to people and places fitting needly into our set of expected norms. To see an ancient cave painting at Runaway Creek or one of the artifacts excavated its caves less than ten years ago fills your head with illusions of the past. It grounds you and puts your life in perspective in the same way as one of those impossibly star filled nights engrained in our minds.
“I will never forget the first time I saw the paintings,” says Runaway Creek visitor Ted Durkee. “It was just one of those things that stops you in your tracks and holds on to you for the rest of the day.”
Runaway Creek is home to twelve caves from which more than two dozen artifacts were excavated in 2002. These include large and small clay pots, ax heads, arrow heads, grinding stones, and various pottery shards. The real heart of the artifacts at Runaway Creek are the cave paintings. Runaway Creek is home to an extremely rare Mayan cave painting of a Jaguar in red. Only nine caves have been discovered in Mesoamerica with cave painintings and Runaway Creek holds the only painting an animal so far discovered in Belize. The Jaguar is also one of only two monocromatic Mayan paintings discovered to date.
According to Dr. Jaime Awe, director of the Belize Institute of Archaelogy, the Runaway Creek Jaguar cave painting indiciates that a royal Maya ceremony occurred between 100 to 900 A.D. The jaguar was considred to be a symbol of strength and ceremonies were held in caves because they were believed to be the gateways to the underworld.