Altun Ha Archaeological Site, Belize City Surroundings
Altun Ha, Mayan for "Rockstone Pond" or "Water of the Rock", is northern Belize's most famous Mayan ruin. The community at Altun Ha existed between c600 BC (perhaps even earlier) until the collapse of Classic Mayan civilization c900 AD. The population at Altun Ha was estimated at around 3,000 people, and the town was an important trading post as well as an agricultural and ceremonial center.
Address: Independence Plaza, Belize
Opening hours: 9am-5pm
Always opened on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), Baron Bliss Day - Belize (Mar 9), Commonwealth Day - Belize (May 25), Independence Day - Belize (Sep 21), National Day - Belize (Sep 10), Pan American Day - Belize (Oct 12), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25), Day after Christmas, St Stephen's Day, Boxing Day (Dec 26), Easter - Christian
Useful tips: Accommodations and restaurants are scarce in the area, it is recommended to bring along a picnic lunch.
Temple of the Masonry Altars (Structure B-4)
The Temple of the Masonry Altars is the largest and most important structure at Altun Ha. The structure dates from the first half of the 7th C and has since been restored. The temple is named for the altars on which jade objects were smashed and copal was burned during ceremonial sacrifices.The burial sites of important Mayan officials were uncovered during an excavation of the temple in 1968. Only two of the burial sites were in tact, others had been desecrated. Numerous jade objects were discovered at this temple, including the Jade Head, a unique mask sculpture of the Mayan Sun God. An illustration of the Jade Head is found on all Belizean bank notes.
Temple of the Green Tomb (Structure A-1)
One of Altun Ha's important structures, excavation of the Temple of the Green Tomb uncovered a tomb of a Mayan priest-king. The tomb, dating from c600 AD, was found deep within the structure. Nevertheless, the tropical climate had destroyed the king's garments and a Mayan book buried with him.Many artifacts also buried with the king remained in tact. Among the riches were pottery, pearls, shell necklaces, ceremonial flints and jade pendants and beads. Stingray spines that were used in Mayan bloodletting rites were also discovered in the tomb.
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