"Fallen Stones" at Lubaantun
Photograph by Marty Casado
The Maya temples of Lubaantun are unique in that they were built entirely without the aid of mortar. Each stone was carefully measured and cut to fit the adjoining one.
Situated above a tributary to the Columbia River, Lubaantun, sits near the Maya village of San Pedro Columbia in the Toledo District, 13 miles from Punta Gorda Town. Consisting of 14 major structures grouped around five main plazas, Lubaantun was built in the Late Classic period and is the largest ceremonial center in southern Belize.
The ancient city of Lubaantun flourished for over 150 years, from about 700 to 850 A.D. Archaeologists believe that, like other sites in southern Belize, Lubaantun was occupied by the Manche Chol Maya, who moved into the area from the southwest, possibly from the site of Pusilha (Belize) or other neighboring cities in Guatemala. Having constructed their community on the foothills overlooking the banks of the Columbia River, the new settlers rapidly established their regional capital at Lubaantun. Their location, adjacent to fertile soils, allowed them to grow important cash crops, such as cacao, which they exported to their neighbors in exchange for obsidian, jade and other exotic goods. The site core extends for nearly a kilometer along a north-south ridge and contains large civic architecture that served ritual and administrative purposes. The western and northern sections of the center has a series of terraced platforms with residential buildings that were likely used as dwellings for the elites. The site has two (2) ball courts, one at the southern end of the acropolis and the second to the northeast of the main plaza.
There are no stelae at Lubaantun, which is intriguing, since other sites in the area have stalae carved with dates and hieroglyphic inscriptions. The only carved monuments at the site are ball court markers, which were found in the epicenter. Hundreds of Terminal Classic figurines and whistles have been discovered at Lubaantun.
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