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Free images of Belize - Altun Ha - Maya Ruins

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  Have you ever wanted to be an explorer?  

A great way to begin, is by visiting ancient Mayan Ruins that were once cities, towns, religious temples and trading posts.  These ruins can be found in several places in Central America.

Ruins are often hidden in thick jungles and are sometimes overgrown with trees, leaves and soil.  They can be well-hidden.  Some ruins have been excavated, while others are still covered with debris.  How much discovery and excavation is done at various sites depends upon the time and resources of the country within which ruins are discovered. 

 

Pyramid of the Green Tomb Altun Ha Belize

Altun Ha - 2 Pyramid of the Green Tomb (Plaza "A")

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Located in the country of Belize are the ruins of an ancient Mayan city named Altun Ha.  They were only recently found in 1963 when someone flying over the site noticed that, in what should be a flat part of the country, they could see overgrown, tree-covered mounds and hills. Dr. David Pendergast from the Royal Ontario museum, conducted excavations and restorations at this site from 1965 - 1970.  He uncovered what is believed to have been a major ceremonial and trading center.  

It is thought that the area was about 1500 acres in size, the excavated portions that can now be visited cover about 5 square miles (8 km) and are divided into two Plazas.  The site is packed with interesting structures.

Like most Mayan Temples, the structures are made up of several layers, having Temples built upon Temples.

 

  Touring the site...

After about an hour drive from Belize City along the Old Northern highway, I came to a dusty parking lot with local vendors selling mahogany carvings, coconut water, dried banana chips, and bottles of yellow berries I was told made a fine wine.  A short walk along a grassy path will quickly take you to the ancient Mayan site.  My tour guide was well-versed in the history of the site and the following are his explanations.

 

Enterin Altun Ha Belize archaeological site.

Altun Ha - 1
Entering the archaeological site by way of grassy pathways.

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Entering Plaza A Altun Ha archeaological site.

Altun Ha - 3
Entering Plaza "A".

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The direct translation of Altun Ha means “Rock Stone Pond”.  This is not the original name given by the Mayans, but the name given by the archaeological teams that excavated and restored the site. Altun Ha is believed to have been settled around 250 BC.  The building construction began in 100 AD and continued through the Classic period ending in the 10th century. It is estimated that approx. 8 - 10,000 Maya lived in and around the Altun Ha area since it is believed that the area was used as a trading center.  The site contains thirteen structures within two Classic period plazas.

The first plaza (Plaza A) we came to was slightly larger than a football field.  It is a grassy field surrounded by pyramids.  Here we found the Temple of the Green Tomb.  

 

 

 

Panoramic view of Plaza A at Altun Ha Belize.

Altun Ha - 15  2nd Panorama View of Plaza "A"

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Temple of the Green Tomb Altun Ha Belize

Altun Ha - 6  Temple of the Green Tomb (Plaza "A") - 550-600 AD

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Temple of the Green Tomb Altun Ha Belize

Altun Ha - 4  Temple of the Green Tomb (Plaza "A") - 550-600 AD

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Within the Temple of the Green Tomb was found a tomb in which were the remains of what is assumed to have been a priest king since the remains had been buried with a considerable amount of jade, jewelry, pottery, beads, ceremonial flints, skins and a rare codex.  A codex is a book containing the history of the Mayan culture.  Unfortunately, the codex was in such bad shape that not much could be learned from it.  Some refer to this book as the "painted book".  The Temple gets its name from the many green jade objects that were found within it - almost 300 in number.

 

Temple of the Green Tomb Altun Ha Belize

Altun Ha - 5  Temple of the Green Tomb (Plaza "A") - 550-600 AD

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A stabilization and conservation program was undertaken in 2000 and completed in 2004.  In the above photo, you will see cement reinforcement on the left side of the central steps.

 

Temple of the Green Tomb Altun Ha Belize

Altun Ha - 7  Temple of the Green Tomb (Plaza "A") - 550-600 AD

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More cement stabilization can be seen at the left of the above photo.  The lighter coloured tops of the steps have been reinforced.

Panorama view of Plaza A at Altun Ha Belize.

Altun Ha - 14  Panorama View of Plaza "A"

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Within the plaza, directly across from the Temple of the Green Tomb is another structure - at the right of the photograph above, covered with grass - which contained what is assumed to be the remains of a woman, based on her adornments.  Being buried so close to a priest is thought to indicate that she was of considerable importance and suggests that the Mayans may have had female rulers.

 

Structure in Plaza A Altun Ha Belize.

Altun Ha - 9  Structure in Plaza "A" containing tomb of a woman.

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View into Plaza A of Altun Ha Belize.

Altun Ha - 16  
Viewing into Plaza "A" - The green grass covered structure where tomb of woman was found.

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Mayan structure in Plaza A Belize.

Altun Ha - 10  More Structures in Plaza "A" 

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Altun Ha Belize Image Pages    [1]    [2]    [3]

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If you'd like to drop me a note to let me know if any of these images have been useful, I'd love to hear from you. I'm curious to see if my snapshots have been of benefit to you in some way.  Also, I'd like to hear what kind of images you'd like to see more of. 

 

 

 

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Washington Monument

 

 

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