Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Xunantunich, Belize

One more card for now.. This is the last of the postcards my penpal Lauren sent me from her cruise holiday in the Caribbean earlier this year. She really got to visit some amazing places!

On this postcard you can see Xunantunich, a Maya archaeological site in western Belize, about 130 km west of Belize City, in the Cayo District. Xunantunich is located atop a ridge above the Mopan River, within sight of the Guatemala border. Its name means "Stone Woman" in the Maya language (Mopan and Yucatec combination name), and, like many names given to Maya archaeological sites, is a modern name; the ancient name is currently unknown. The "Stone Woman" refers to the ghost of a woman claimed by several people to inhabit the site, beginning in 1892. She is dressed completely in white, and has fire-red glowing eyes. She generally appears in front of "El Castillo", ascends the stone stairs, and disappears into a stone wall.

Most of the structures date from the Maya Classic Era, about 200 to 900 AD. There is evidence that some structures were damaged by an earthquake while they were occupied; this earthquake may have been a reason for the site's abandonment.

The core of Xunantunich occupies about 2.6 km², consisting of a series of six plazas surrounded by more than 26 temples and palaces. One of its structures, the pyramid known as "El Castillo", the second tallest structure in Belize (after the temple at Caracol), at some 40 m tall. Archeological excavations have revealed a number of fine stucco facades on some of the ancient temples of this site. Evidence of construction suggests the temple was built in three stages in the 7th, 8th, and 9th centuries. The fine stucco or "frieze" are located on the final stage.

The first modern explorations of the site were conducted by Thomas Gann in 1894 and 1895. Several projects of archeological excavations have been conducted at the site from the 1930s through the 1990s.


agi said...

wow amazing card and stamp! :)

Anu said...

Isn't it?! Belize looks so beautiful :)

Lauren said...

I'm so happy this card reached you safely! It is even more amazing in is hard to tell from this photo but the pyramid was HUGE! Very tall and such a breathtaking view from the top! I hope you get to visit Belize someday!

Anu said...

I can imagine it must be even more impressive in person, I hadn't realised it was THAT big! I'd certainly love to visit Belize one day!