Sunday, May 30, 2010

Belize Archaeology Adventure 2010 Pt. 1 (Xunantunich)

This week I decided to take a few days and travel from Merida to the Belizean interior to visit some archaeological sites which have alluded me so far. Belize is a great little country with several interesting ruins to visit; it is also teaming with wildlife due in great part to its low population density of about 250,000 in a territory about the size of Belgium. Belize is however not without its challenges... transportation can be difficult and unreliable, it is important to always have a plan B!

Anyway for this first post I will share some photographs I took of the ancient city of Xunantunich. This third century site is found on the Mopan river about 150 km west of Belize city and near the towns of Benque Viejo and San Ignacio. Xunantunich means "Stone Woman" in the Yucatec Maya dialect, however the original name of the site is not known. The site is dominated by "El Castillo" which is decorated with beautiful stucco masks and other adornments. The structure stands as Belize's second largest pyramid after "Caan" in Caracol. The site also features many other smaller pyramids, courtyards, ceremonial platforms and a ball court.

River crossing on the Mopan.

Storm clouds looming over Xunantunich

One of the several beautiful stucco masks

Stairway up "El Castillo".

View through the ruins of a structure in the southern plaza.

View of the main acropolis.

El Castillo

Xunantunich ball court.

One of Xunantunich's current inhabitants, how beautiful, what a treat!

One of the many unrestored structures at the site.

Hope you enjoyed the post, come back soon for more on Belizean archeaology!

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