Altun Ha Ruins of Belize

Ruins of The Americas | | May 21, 2009 at 5:33 pm


altun ha plazasAltun Ha which means Rockstone Pond has been a settlement since 250 BC and is an hour by road for Belize City. It gets its name from the neighboring village of Rockstone Pond. Construction of the main buildings started in the city around 100 AD and continued till the 10th century. It is believed that there was mass looting in Altun Ha in the year 900 AD and it was a form of revolt against the ruler of the city.

The city has an area of around 5 square miles. The main structures in the city are the two central plazas which are surrounded by towering temples. At its peak the city was inhabited by over 10,000 inhabitants and was an important trading centre in the region.

The largest pyramid in The Temple of the Masonry Altars and has a height of 54 feet. It is thought to have been the focal point of the community’s religious activities in the city.

The central square mile of the city has over 500 structures and many more are yet to be uncovered. There is a single stairway on the pyramid that takes to the top of the pyramid. Archeologists have found a number of toms inside the pyramid. It is believed that these tombs were used to keep the bodies of the high priests of Altun Ha. During excavation archeologist found a priceless piece of history in the form of a 15-centimeter high, jade head of the Maya Sun God, Kinich Ahau. The jade head is considered as a national treasure of Belize.

A road connects Altun Ha to Belize’s Northern Highway, and the site is accessible for tourism. Altun Ha is located at a distance of 50 kilometers from Belize City. The site is often on the tour list for cruises stopping in Belize and is an excellent shore excursion. The trip along with guide, transportation, entrance fee and lunch cost on an average around 100 US$. The trip lasts around 5-6 hours.

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1 Comment

  1. vareeja says:

    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 Maya sun god, Kinich Ahau.

    This jade head is considered one of the national treasures of Belize.

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