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Ms. Marilyn Bull

Co Founder of the Belize Independence Project. Leaving a lifetime of sharing and caring.

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Lamanai, located on the New River in Orange Walk District, is known for being the longest continually-occupied site in Mesoamerica. The thriving crocodile population in the nearby New River lagoon gave Lamanai his Name. Many of Lamanai's main structures and excavated artifacts exhibits representate the famed reptile. Lamanai is the Spanish historic name for Lama’ an/ayin, which means “submerged crocodile.”

High Temple

High Temple, LamanaiThe High Temple "El Castillo" is the largest Pre-Classic structure in Belize with a height of 108 ft from the plaza floor. It was first built in 100 AD establishing its full height and its final modification was to the front in AD 600-700. On the south front side, the stairway has been partially consolidated. To climbing the High Temple, all you need is to be free from giddiness and good pair of shoes. Don’t forget your camera, when you climb the High Temple. At the top of the stairway a trail continues to the top for a spectacular view, above the jungle canopy, that extends into Guatemala and Mexico.

The Mask Temple

The Mask temple, LamanaiThe Mask Temple, adorned by a 13-foot stone mask of an ancient Maya king. Build in Early Classic and Late Classic Periods with final phase of construction AD 550-650. This west-facing structure is decorated with two masks that date to the late 5th or early 6th century. The mask to the right (south) of the stairway on the lower level is 15' tall with a human head and crocodile headdress. The upper level mask's face was broken during construction. They masks are made of stone with an unusual thin grey stucco coating.

The Ball Court

Lamanai's ball court features a circular stone center marker, underneath which a ceremonial vessel containing liquid mercury was found. It was the first reported discovery of mercury in the Maya lowlands.

The Ball Court- LamanaiThe ball game, which was a common activity of all Mesoamerican peoples and originated about 3,000 B.C., had a ritualistic function for the ancient Maya. Two teams (the number of players depended on the region where the game was played) faced off on courts whose measurements could vary. Most ball courts had two sloping parallel walls inset with three round disks called markers or a single stone ring, at right angles to the ground.

Ballplayers wore protective equipment during the game to prevent bodily damage by the hard rubber ball. The balls are made of solid rubber and weighed up to 4 kg (9 lbs) or more, and sizes differed greatly over time or according to the version played. Players would attempt to bounce the ball without using their hands and only touch the ball with their elbows, knees or hips through stone hoops attached to the sides of the ball court.

As far a we know, the winners of the game were treated as heroes and given a great feast. The penalty for losing a game was unusually harsh: death. The leader of the team who lost the game was killed. This fit in with the Mayan belief that human sacrifice was necessary for the continued success of the peoples' agriculture, trade, and overall health.