Lamanai Mayan Ruins
Lamanai Travel Blog› entry 4 of 9 › view all entries
Every year, I try to do at least one ruins trip to see something new and this year was Lamanai which everyone raves about, especially due to the long ride up the river which provides great scenery!
Lamanai means "submerged crocodile" and was once a large city in the Maya civilization, located in Orange Walk District of Belize. It is believed Lamanai was occupied as early as the 16th century BC up through the 17th century AD. Most of this area remained unexcavated until the mid 1970's. Lamanai was named for the large crocodile population in the nearby river lagoon (glad I found this out after the boat ride! LOL). Some of the ruins are the oldest in Belize and remain mostly unexcavated at this time.
Mask Temple (Structure N9-56)
Construction dates from the Middle Early Classic to the Late Classic Period. This structure is infamous for its carved limestone masks which depict Olmec characteristics. Within the Mask Temple, two tombs were discovered dating to the 5th century. One of the burials that was recovered was encased with a "coccon" of wood, textiles, and plaster, soaked in lime. The human remains had been encased with a red pigment (likely cinnabar based) and covered in clay to slow decomposition - the pelvis of the individual was placed within a large Classic period plate decorated with a hummingbird.
During the Classic period, there was a rise in kinship and rulership 'worship'.
Structure N10-43 is 33 meters in height and the tallest structure at the site of Lamanai and also one of hte larget Preclassic structures in the Maya area. The initial phase of construction for N10-43 began in 100 BC and it was abandoned in the early Postclassic period. Several offerings recovered were jade and shell items.
There are 5 buildings that surround the plaza and excavations beneath the plaza provided extensive Preclassic architectural and material cultural remains. There are two phases of N10-43 which provides confirmation the structure is securely dated to the Preclassic period which provides researchers the knowledge that the Maya of Lamanai were socially and economically well organized by that early date.
Structure N10-17 to 29 and Stela 9
The "Royal Complex" comprises structures N10-17 through N10-29 which can be dated from the Middle Late Classic through the Late Postclassic Period. Excavation of these structures revealed remnants of extensive decoration using painted, modelled stucco. The royal complex was used by the elite Maya for residential purposes.
Stela 9 was erected at the end of the Middle Classic Period. Stela 9 depicts Lord "Smoking Shell" holding a double headed ceremonial bar diagonally across his chest. The headdress depicted on the monument has typical traits of the Early Classic Period.
Structure N10-9 - Jaguar Temple
The Jaguaroid Facade sculptures on the west side suffered more damage through the years then the east side. Numerous reasons may exist including hurricanes, rainstorms, extreme sun exposure, moss, roots, and perhaps even insects. The sides were renovated at the base of the temple. These sculptures give the structure its name and also reiterate the importance of the Jaguar in the life of the ancient Maya who resided at Lamani. There were three sculptures excavated which were one of the ancient Maya's main ceremonial structures at Lamanai.
After visiting Lamanai we had an awesome lunch on the patio area by the river as the storm rolled in. We decided we better get on the way in case we got stuck so we hurried and got back in the boat and on our way. What a beautiful trip back cruising along the river while the rain hit came down. As we stopped back at our spot to transfer into the van, we got to see some of the crocodiles who were ready for dinner. One of the girls on our tour got to feed them which was pretty scary since she could've fallen in the river at any time! LOL. On our way back across to Ambergris, the sun started peeking out and we got to see a group of dolphins playing around which was awesome. Unfortunately, I didn't do so well in the action photography department but I tried!!! Although it was a long trip, this was definitely an awesome outing!!!