Belize is home to more than 600 ancient Maya sites, but some of the most impressive of these sites are little known to outsiders. Located in Belize‘s far southern Toledo District, these amazing ancient cities continue to astonish and mystify archeologists.
Nim Li Punit
Its original name is unknown, but it’s modern Maya name means “Big Hat” because Nim Lim Punit is home to a large collection of carved stelae, including one of a chieftain in an elaborate headdress or “big hat.” Despite the loveliness of the decorations, it is believed that Nim Li Punit was purely a ceremonial site for royal religious burials and other rituals.
At first glance, it’s easy to see that Lubaantun is like no other ancient Maya site on Earth. For one, all of Lubaantun’s buildings were built from large stone blocks laid without any mortar. Lubaantun also has pyramids with rounded corners. Believed to have been a trading town, Lubaantun is where a crystal skull was supposedly found in 1924. In the modern Mayan tongue, Lubaantun means “Place of Fallen Stones” due to the dilapidated condition of many of the original structures.
Although less well-known than its two neighbors Lubaantun and Nim Lim Punit, it is believed that Pusilha was once the largest city in the Maya world. More than 20 stelae and other artifacts havebeen found here that tell of Pusilha’s role as a major center of trade. Pusilha was also once home to the only known bridge across a river ever built by the ancient Maya.
You‘ll feel like a true Indiana Jones when you visit Xhaneb as it is far off the beaten path. Only accessible by a small jungle track, Xnaheb is a large site that is still mostly unexcavated. Visitors, however, can see beautifully carved stelae as well as a number of colossal buildings.
Only recently opened to the public, Uxbenka is a relatively small site that is believed to havebeen used as a ceremonial center for ancient Maya elites. Much of Uxbenka is still yet to be excavated, but visitors can see many ancient colossal buildings. And there’s a marvelous panoramic view of the nearby Maya Mountains from atop the biggest tree-covered mound.