Located at around 30 miles north of the Belize City and at around 6 miles west of the Caribbean Sea, the Altun Ha Mayan Ruins is one of the most interesting and exciting Mayan sites that you can check out during your Belize trip. Altun Ha is not the largest site out there, but it does cover around 5 miles, and it does bring in front some fascinating things that you might be very impressed about.
One of the things that many consider important here is that many stones from the ancient structures were used by the locals to create the Rockstone Pond Agricultural village in modern times. As a result, is not that well preserved, at least when compared to other of the many locations that you can find in this region. This is a shame, because Altun Ha was one of the most visually impressive ruins, at least until the locals decided to use these stones in another manner.
The Temple of the Masonry Altars has around 54 feet in height and this does show the sheer uniqueness of the site. That alone, combined with the stellar appeal offered here shows the great array of benefits that you can get from Altun Ha. Plus, its strategic location right near the ruins makes it a very distinct, amazing one and you will certainly be very impressed with this great site when you visit it, that’s for sure.
Where does the Altun Ha name come from?
A lot of people are wondering where the Altun Ha name comes from, and that is for a very good reason. A thing to note here is that the name comes from a Yucatec Mayan term that can be translated as Rockstone water. The reason is simple, you can find a Rockstone Pond right near the site, so it’s easy to figure out why you can find this name here. On top of that, Haltun means stone deposit and ha means water.
So, you have both a massive stone deposit and water here, which is quite interesting to say the least. A thing to keep in mind about the Altun Ha is that the site was preferred by many Mayans because it was close to the water regions, and it did very well from a trading perspective due to that reason alone.
Maybe the best thing about the Altun Ha site is that you can find it in the NC, coastal plain of Belize and more specifically in a tropical zone. At first, the site was very swampy, but the Mayan occupation allowed it to relish, and in the end, it became one of the most important sites in the region.
When it comes to the site on its own, it had multiple regions and groups. You have two groups and 3 zones that bring a nucleated area, as well as four other zones that bring a suburban area. One of the distinct things to note about this particular site is that there is no stela here. According to some archaeologists, it seems that the stelae weren’t a part of the ceremonial procedures here.
This is quite interesting because most of the time we are accustomed to the idea of getting this sort of thing from Mayan sites. Leaving this out seems like a very challenging thing to do, and it does seem a tad disappointing for those that want to visit the site looking for a stela. Even so, there are plenty of great things to see here so even if you do not get a stela, there are still plenty of cool options and things you should look forward to, which is what matters the most.
Also, the Altun Ha site also has two causeways, which are located in the zone C and E/F. But since this is a zone full of water and a swampy one at that, it’s easy to understand why a lot of people did opt for the Altun Ha to have the causeways with various walking options over them. While these are still preserved at this time, it’s easy to see why a lot of people do not consider them one of the best options out there.
Altun Ha diet
One of the different things about the Altun Ha is that the locals here did have a different diet when compared to others in this regard. Usually, the regular diet was Maize based, but at the same time, it also brought in front marine components.
Because Altun Ha is pretty near to the Carribean Sea, it’s easy to see why marine foods were critical here. In fact, they were a major part of the diet, and they did have a wide array of incredible benefits, to say the least. Aside from that, they also had numerous maize farms to support the increasing demand for this particular food.
During the Postclassic era, the diet changed a bit, as numerous terrestrial animals were consumed here. This included dogs and deer, something that’s very important to note.
There were numerous caches at the Altun Ha. These usually occurred in two different categories. You had the largest class that had the communal structures and which were used specifically for the public rituals, then you had residential structures focused on a single family. The primary axis you could find here was one of the most meaningful ways to connect with the deities at that particular time. At first, they started using a wide array of items, but soon after that, they started to focus on jade, which is why towards the 5th century there were a lot of Jade offerings.
The caches started to evolve, and they grew quite a bit to the point where the site had to undergo a structural modification. It did become one of the most important centers in the region mostly thanks to the ceremonial value and the other great visuals that you can find here.
When you come to visit the Altun Ha ruins, you will find quite a lot of places to see and enjoy during your trip. The main one you should be excited about is the Temple of the Masonry Arts. The reason why this is a very important temple is simple, it was expanded multiple times, and the latest expansion did bring around an altar which made it very distinct and unique, to begin with.
You can find seven tombs here, which means that there are plenty of interesting photo opportunities. Plus, the tombs are visually impressive, so you will spend quite a bit of time admiring them and the details to the best of your capabilities. The oldest tomb has a carved head of the Kinich Ahau, which is the Maua sun god.
Then you have the A-6 temple which is the tallest building here. However, this is not restored which means it will be a bit challenging to gain access to it. Not impossible, but a bit hard. This is why you have to do all in your power to get the necessary information before you reach it. This way you will be able to avoid any potential disappointments and results will be very well worth it.
Maybe the best thing you can do when you visit the Altun Ha Mayan site is to climb atop the temple. This provides you with a fantastic view, and it’s indeed one of the best, most enticing and visually impressive locations that you can find at this time. Exploring the Altun Ha this way is a delight, and the visuals that you can find here are second to none, that’s for sure. It’s safe to say that coming to Altun Ha and visiting the temple or even climbing it can be a delightful way to check the entire location and the vistas are indeed breathtaking.
The road here is quite treacherous, and you will always find yourself dealing with a wide array of challenges all the time. That alone shows the true value of the region and you will be more than impressed with the unique value provided here.
One thing is certain, even though you can find a swamp region here, the road towards Altun Ha is quite accessible although you have to avoid the rainy season.
Should you visit the Altun Ha Mayan site?
Many benefits come from visiting this site. If you are interested in the Mayan history and want to see some amazing relics, this can be a magnificent place to visit. It’s one of the best options that you can find here, and in the end, results can be very well worth it! So yes, if you want to explore lost Mayan cities and enjoy some of the most enticing cities in the region, you will find it a lot more interesting and surprising than ever before. You should consider giving it a shot right away; it will be worth it for sure.