Lamanai Archaeological Site, Northern Belize
Lamanai, Mayan for "Submerged Crocodile", is one of Belize's largest ceremonial centers and the most impressive archaeological site in northern Belize. The ruins are located on the banks of the New River and are set in secondary tropical forest. Inhabited from 1500 BC to the 19th C, Lamanai has the longest occupation span of any Mayan site and the ruins also include the remains of two Christian churches and a sugar mill.
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: Bring lunch and beverages. Most visitors choose to reach Lamanai by boat ride up the New River. Several excursions are offered to Lamanai from all over Belize.
Typical Visit: 3 hours
Lamanai Archaeological Site Highlights
This Late Classic stela, a column or pillar monument, represents Lord Smoking Shell. The date depicted on Stela 9 celebrates the anniversary of the lord's reign and the conclusion of the year. The burials of five children ranging in age from newborn to eight have been discovered beneath the stela, indicating a site of high significance since human offerings are not usually associated with the dedication of monuments.
Mask Temple (Structure N9-56)
Structure N9-56 has a 13ft/4m high mask of a man in a crocodile-mouth headdress etched on its southwest face. Called the "Mask Temple", the structure was built and modified between 200 BC and 1300 AD. Excavations of the temple have revealed burial tombs and other structures lying beneath the temple.
Lamanai's ball court features a large marker, underneath which a ceremonial vessel containing liquid mercury was found. Archaeologists believe the mercury came from Guatemala.
Lag (Structure N10-43)
This structure is the tallest temple at Lamanai, rising 125ft/33m above the jungle canopy. Excavations indicate that construction of the structure began as early as 100 BC, and that it was a ceremonial temple built in a residential area.
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