Altun Ha, an ancient Mayan city located in the heart of Belize, is a treasure trove of history, culture, and architectural marvels. This site, once a bustling hub of trade and ceremonial activities, now stands as a testament to the grandeur of the Mayan civilization.

History

Altun Ha, meaning “Rockstone Pond” in the Yucatec Maya language, was first settled around 200 BC. The city flourished between 200 and 900 AD, during the Classic Period of Mayan civilization. It was a significant trading center, with goods such as jade, obsidian, and ceramics being traded from far and wide.

Architecture

The site is home to at least 13 structures spread across two main plazas. The most iconic of these is the Temple of the Green Tomb, named so because of the rich jade artifacts found within. Another notable structure is the Temple of the Masonry Altars, the tallest building at Altun Ha, standing at a height of 54 feet.

The Jade Head

One of the most significant discoveries at Altun Ha is the Jade Head, representing the Mayan Sun God, Kinich Ahau. This artifact, the largest carved jade object in the entire Mayan region, symbolizes the importance of Altun Ha as a ceremonial and trading center.

Visiting Altun Ha

Today, Altun Ha is a popular tourist destination. Visitors can explore the ancient structures, learn about Mayan history and culture, and even spot some of the local wildlife.


Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Where is Altun Ha located? Altun Ha is located in the Belize District, about 31 miles north of Belize City.

  2. When was Altun Ha discovered? The site was discovered in 1963 by the pilot and amateur archaeologist, Hal Ball.

  3. What does Altun Ha mean? Altun Ha translates to “Rockstone Pond” in the Yucatec Maya language.

  4. What is the significance of the Jade Head found at Altun Ha? The Jade Head, representing the Mayan Sun God, Kinich Ahau, is the largest carved jade object in the Mayan region. It signifies the importance of Altun Ha as a ceremonial center.

  5. Can I visit Altun Ha? Yes, Altun Ha is open to the public. Visitors can explore the ancient structures and learn about Mayan history and culture.

  6. What wildlife can I see at Altun Ha? The site is home to a variety of wildlife, including armadillos, bats, squirrels, and over 200 species of birds.

  7. What was Altun Ha’s role in the Mayan civilization? Altun Ha was a significant trading and ceremonial center during the Classic Period of the Mayan civilization.

  8. What goods were traded at Altun Ha? Goods such as jade, obsidian, and ceramics were traded at Altun Ha.

  9. What is the tallest structure at Altun Ha? The tallest structure at Altun Ha is the Temple of the Masonry Altars, standing at a height of 54 feet.

  10. Who discovered Altun Ha? AltunHa was discovered by Hal Ball, a pilot and amateur archaeologist, in 1963.


Altun Ha is a fascinating glimpse into the past, a window into the lives of the ancient Mayans. Whether you’re a history buff, an architecture enthusiast, or simply a curious traveler, Altun Ha is a destination that promises an unforgettable journey. So, pack your bags and get ready to explore this ancient gem of Belize!

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