Our first trip to a Maya ruin in Belize, Xunantunich was spectacular! It was smoking hot in the sun, but we endured the heat in order to climb to the top of El Castillo, at 136 feet it's Belize's second tallest structure by only one foot.
Xunantunich was first explored in the 1800’s by Dr. Thomas Gann a British medical officer. The first recorded photograph of the site was taken in 1904 and displayed in the Peabody Museum of Archaeology, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for many years. After this, activities at the site were abandoned until 1924, with the return of Gann. Records show that in his second visit, he unearthed much Maya treasures, history of which have been lost and the whereabouts unknown. It is believed and quite possible that many museums and private collectors of Maya Artifacts are displaying these items, with no idea of their origin.
In comparison to other neighboring sites, the history of the Maya at Xunantunich is relatively short. Early Belize Maya settlers may have established a small village at the site during the Middle ,Preclassic (600-300 BC) period, but the ancient city, as we know it, rose to prominence and declined between AD 700 to 1000. This rather late development is unusual because it indicates that while most other cities in the region were waning during the troubled Terminal Classic period (AD 800-900), the fortunes of Xunantunich were on the rise. A well developed site, Xunantunich is on the Belize.com Top Ten Maya Sites of Belize list.
The last date recorded on a stela (Stela 9) at the site is AD 830. Thereafter we know that activity continued into the Early Postclassic period (AD 900-1000) but by this time the pace of development was nowhere what it was in the ninth century. The Early Postclassic period is also very unclear and activities during this time may have been associated with small groups who attempted to reoccupy the city after abandonment.
Another Mayan ruin in Belize, Cahal Pech, can be viewed by clicking the provided link.
For tips on shooting with a wide angle lens, go to my post Wide Angle Photography Tips.