Altun Ha Archaeological Site – Belize District, Belize
Altun Ha is one of the most easily accessible and most visited Maya archaeological sites in Belize. Many cruise ship tourists get to visit these ruins during their short stay in the country, as it is located about 30 miles north of Belize City.
Altun Ha was occupied from about B.C 900 to A.D. 1000 and it served as an important trading and religious ceremonial center with a population of about 3000 people.
Pictured above is the Plaza B, that is dominated by the Temple of the Masonry Altars – the largest temple in Altun Ha, measuring 54 feet above the plaza. (The building to the left)
This temple has a central stairway at the front and an altar at the top, suggesting it could have been the main temple for religious ceremonies. In addition, several priestly tombs have been uncovered within the structure.
It was in this building that archeologist discovered the Sun God’s Tomb. Inside it they found a carved jade head of Kinich Ahau, the sun god, and the skeleton of an adult male with many offerings, among other artifacts. The carved jade head is the largest carved jade piece found to date in the entire Maya world – measuring 14.9 cm high.
Unfortunately, the temples and building of Altun Ha were severely looted before archaeologists started excavating them. In addition, they were quarried during the construction of the Panamerican highway and the village of Rockstone Pond, using many of the temple stones as recycled construction material. Still, many of the most important building in Altun Ha are well preserved.
Fun fact… The Temple of the Masonry Altars is the logo of Belikin Beer – Belize’s local beer.
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