Recently I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Belize and volunteer at an orphanage outside of Belize City. It was hard work & incredibly fulfilling, and I’ll be posting some of those pictures here – but primarily I’m going to post the images from my days off when I had a chance to go out & see what there was to see in the area.
On the third of my four days off during my work, I went with two fellow volunteers to the Mayan ruins of Lamanai. Words cannot express the majesty, beauty, and sense of wonder that the site conveyed. The images I shot are a poor representation of what I saw and experienced… it is a day I will never forget!
What follows is a bit of history on the site – if you’re interested, please read… if not, feel free to skip the history lesson & scroll right down to the picture gallery. It’s ok – I won’t be offended… it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. 🙂
Lamanai (from Lama’anayin, “submerged crocodile” in Yucatec Maya) is a Mesoamerican archaeological site, and was once a considerably sized city of the Maya civilization, located in the north of Belize, in Orange Walk District. The site’s name is pre-Columbian, recorded by early Spanish missionaries, and documented over a millennium earlier in Maya inscriptions as Lam’an’ain.
Lamanai was occupied as early as the 16th century BC. The site became a prominent center in the Pre-Classic Period, from the 4th century BC through the 1st century CE. In 625 CE, “Stele 9” was erected there in the Yucatec language of the Maya. Lamanai continued to be occupied up to the 17th century AD. During the Spanish conquest of Yucatán Spanish friars established two Roman Catholic churches here, but a Maya revolt drove the Spanish out. The site was subsequently incorporated by the British in British Honduras, passing with that colony’s independence to Belize.
The vast majority of the site remained unexcavated until the mid-1970s. Archaeological work has concentrated on the investigation and restoration of the larger structures, most notably the Mask Temple, Jaguar Temple, and High Temple. The summit of this latter structure affords a view across the surrounding jungle to a nearby lagoon, part of New River.
A significant portion of the Temple of the Jaguar Masks remains under grassy earth or is covered in dense jungle growth. Fully excavated, it would be significantly taller than the High Temple.
The Maya ruins of Lamanai once belonged to a sizable Mayan city in the Orange Walk District of Belize. “Lamanai” comes from the Maya term for “submerged crocodile”, a nod to the toothy reptiles who live along the banks of the New River. Lamanai Belize jungle brims with exotic birds and hydrophilic iguanas. There is evidence of Mayan life that dates from about 1500 B.C. through Postclassic (A.D. 950-1544) and Spanish colonial times (A.D. 1544-1700)
To read my journal entry about the day, please visit my personal blog HERE.
Thanks, and enjoy!