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Tony Rath's

    Places to See > Altun Ha
Temple of Masonry Altars at night

Archeologists believe Rockstone Pond, the literal translation for Altun Ha, was first settled somewhere around 250 BC, with construction of the buildings beginning in 100 AD and continuing throughout the Classic period that ended in the 10th century. Some 10,000 Maya lived in and around Altun Ha, which was a significant trading center as evidenced by the large amounts of jade and obsidian excavated here in the early sixties and seventies.

Spanning a 25 square mile area roughly an hour from Belize City, Altun Ha is made up of two central plazas surrounded by towering temples that enclose the palm strewn land (see map here). The larger of the two plazas, Plaza A, is the site of a mysterious tomb discovered beneath one of the temples called Temple of the Green Tomb. Jade, jewelry, flints and skins are among the three hundred remnants that were unearthed here.

Jade Head of the Mayan un od - Kinich Ahau

The Temple of the Masonry Altars is Altun Ha's largest temple and is thought to have been the focal point of the community's religious activities. A single stairway climbs the temple to an altar perched at the peak. Inside, several tombs were discovered that are believed to have kept the bodies of Altun Ha's high priests. One of these digs yielded a priceless piece of history in the form of a 15-centimeter high, jade head of the Maya Sun God, Kinich Ahau.

Though not much else has been excavated, there are also several other areas of interest at the site, notably another temple at the eastern edge that was found to contain artifacts from the great city of Teotihuacan in the Valley of Mexico. Plaza B and Temple of Masonry Altars

Altun Ha is not the easiest place to reach if you're traveling without a guide. A daily bus from Cinderella Plaza in Belize City passes the village of Lucky Strike, a two-mile walk to Altun Ha, on the way to Maskall. A tour guide is recommended for this visit and can be found by clicking the services button on this page or by contacting us.

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