Belize City Mayan Ruins


Altun Ha Mayan Ruins

Altun Ha Mayan Ruins is the name given ruins of an ancient Maya city in Belize, located in the Belize District about 30 miles (50 km) north of Belize City and about 6 miles (10 km) west of the shore of the Caribbean Sea.

"Altun Ha Mayan Ruins" is a modern name in the Mayan language, coined by translating the name of the nearby village of Rockstone Pond. The ancient name is at present unknown.

The largest of Altun Ha's temple-pyramids, the "Temple of the Masonry Altars", is 54 feet (16 m) high. A drawing of this structure is the logo of Belize's leading brand of beer, "Belikin".

The site covers an area of about 5 miles (8 km) square. The central square mile of the site has remains of some 500 structures.

 

 

 

Archeological investigations show that Altun Ha Mayan Ruins in Belize were occupied by 200 BC. The bulk of construction was from the Maya Classic era, c. 200 to 900 AD, when the site may have had a population of about 10,000 people. About 900 there was some looting of elite tombs of the site, which some think is suggestive of a revolt against the site's rulers. The site remained populated for about another century after that, but with no new major ceremonial or elite architecture built during that time. After this the population dwindled, with a moderate surge of reoccupation in the 12th century before declining again to a small agricultural village.

The ruins of the ancient structures had their stones reused for residential construction of the agricultural village of Rockstone Pond in modern times, but the ancient site did not come to the attention of archeologists until 1963, when the existence of a sizable ancient site was recognized from the air by pilot and amateur Mayanist Hal Ball.

Starting in 1965 an archeological team lead by Dr. David Pendergast of the Royal Ontario Museum began extensive excavations and restorations of the site, which continued through 1970. Among the discoveries is a large (almost 10 pounds, or 5 kilograms) piece of jade elaborately carved into an image of the head of the Mayan sun god, Kinich Ahau. This jade head is considered one of the national treasures of Belize.

 

 

Tour Details

Price: $55.00

Book 12 persons and go free as the group leader

This tour is designed to last approximately 4.5 hours. It include a 50 minutes drive from Belize City to the site. As we drive to the site we will be narrating The History Of Belize. When we arrive at the site we will have a short restroom break. After the break we start the tour of the site. The tour of the site last an hour to an hour and a half. Whilst doing the tour of the site we will do presentations on Medicinal Plants, Indian History, and Altun Ha History. After the tour of the site we drive through the country side to Belize City.
 
We also do a combination of the Baboon Sanctuary and Ruins Of Altun Ha. Thiis tour is designed to last 5 hours to 5.5 hour.

Cahal Pech Mayan Ruins

 

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Large palace-type structure facing the main public plaza of Cahal Pech

 

Cahal Pech Mayan Ruins is located on the southern outskirts of San Ignacio Town in the upper Belize Valley region of the Cayo District, Belize . The site center sits on the crest of a steep hill on the west bank of the Macal River. The central acropolis, approximately 900 feet above sea level, provides a commanding view of the Maya Mountains to the south and the fertile valleys of the Belize River to the northeast.

 

Although the actual date that Cahal Pech Mayan Ruins were discovered is unknown, the first published record of the site dates to the late 1930s. It wasn't until the 1950s, however, that the first archaeological investigations of the site began. At this time Linton Satterthwaite from the University Museum of the University of Pennsylvania conducted preliminary mapping and excavation. Except for two brief paragraphs in a 1951 publication, Satterthwaite never produced a detailed report of this work but a copy of his notes were subsequently retrieved from the University Museum and are presently stored in the library of the Belize Department of Archaeology. In his brief summary of this research Satterthwaite concluded:

 

Cahal Pech is a site with an unpropitious Maya name meaning "Place of the Ticks." This ceremonial center includes pyramid temples, palaces, and a ball court. Five stelae and an altar (plain) show presence of the stela cult. Some major buildings were roofed with the Maya vault, some apparently not. There was a gradual architectural growth, the occupation probably running through the entire Classic Period, and we have ceramic hints of a longer occupation. Though previously unknown to Archaeologists, it is only about a mile from the suspension bridge at El Cayo. Finally, it is on the lands of Mr. Henry Melhado of Belize, an extremely kind gentleman who permits us to dig it.



Late Classic elite residence

Between 1953 and 1955, Gordon Willey of Harvard University visited Cahal Pech during his settlement survey of the middle Belize River Valley region. He subsequently wrote a brief description of Cahal Pech and incorporated the center in his discussion of settlement hierarchy in the Belize River Valley.

During the 1960s, A.H. Anderson, Belize's first archaeological commissioner, made several visits to Cahal Pech. Because of its easy access and location, Anderson recommended to the government that the site be left unaffected by private lands, and that the center and its immediate periphery be developed as a National Park. Due to financial constraints Anderson's recommendations were, unfortunately, never implemented.

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I, Donald G. Ramirez recommend the Ruins Of Cahal Pech over Ruins Of Xunantunich. Cahal Pech was occupied up to the arrival of the Europeans. Besides this, it is the only site beside Ruins Of Lamanai that has a complete museum on the site. There is the skeletal remains of one of the rulers on display. There are also a lot of Mayan Artifact on display. Cahal Ruins is the only ruins where guest can actually enter the chambers of the buildings.

 

Inside a chamber at Cahal Pech Ruins

Arifact on display at Cahal Pech


Xunantunich Mayan Ruins

About 40 km from the Tikal complex in Guatemala, Xunantunich was a major ceremonial center.   From its perch on a natural limestone ridge, visitors have a fantastic view of the surrounding area.  And though the center is only one square kilometre, it is home to 25 temples and palaces including the second tallest Mayan structure in Belize, the pyramid El Castillo.  The site was the first one in Belize that was open to the public, in 1954, and now it has a highly praised on-site museum.

 

 

The religion of the citizens of Xunantunich helped build this city up to the ceremonial center that it became.  To understand it is to understand in at least some way the people of this once great city.  It is believed that the temples and stelae focus on fertility and the warlords.  They have a tendency to portray the warlords and their ancestors as the source of fertility of all Mayans.  So all of these structure stress sexual symbolism in one way or another.  Some theories suggest that an earthquake caused the abandonment of the city.

Hand cranked ferry

Tour Details

 

This tour is designed to last approximately 5.5 hours. It includes an hour and half drive through the western mountains of belize. When we arrive at Soccuz Village near the border with Guatemala we will be crossing the makal river by a hand cranked ferry. The tour of the site last an hour and a half to two hours. Whilst doing the tour of the site we will be doing presentations on ecology, Indian History, Site History, and Medicinal plants.

 

We will be passing another Maya Ruin by the name Of Cahal Pech. We will also be passing the Belize Zoo. You can add both sites to the day's activities with no extra cost. All you need to do is pay your entrance fees and we will include them to your day's activies.