Altun Ha (Rockstone Pond) is situated 31 miles north of Belize City. It is perhaps one of the most known Mayan sites of Belize. Despite the fact that it was officially recognized since 1947 excavation of this site was not carried out initially until 1964- 1971. It was named after the present day nearby village of Rockstone Pond which initially prior to excavation of this site had begun to quarry stone from the covered stone mounds of Altun Ha.
This ancient Mayan City in its origins can be dated back to 200 B.C and was well occupied for over a 1000 years. The central part which has been excavated extensively is made up of two main plazas (A and B).
In its heyday, Altun Ha was an important center of trade and wealth.
One should take into account that the entire Mesoamerican region (beginning from more or less central Mexico and most of Central America) from ancient times was interconnected by a complex network of trade routes.
Altun Ha, 16 miles from the coast was a very important point within this network connecting coastal trade routes originating as far away as the distant City of Teotihuacan (in Central Mexico), with inland lowland routes within Belize and Guatemala and back.
This Mayan Ceremonial Center, and also once a very important trade port is perhaps one of the most well known destinations by both nationals and worldwide visitors. Plaza B houses the highest and biggest temple, 54 feet tall. The Temple of the Masonary Altar (structure B4) atop which there is an altar on excavation unearthed one of the most important national treasures, the famous “Jade Head” carved masterly to depict the Sun God Kinich Ahau. It is quite probable that the skeletal remains of an elderly male were those of one of the most influential socio-political leaders of this metrópoli who was accompanied in his burial with this representation of the Sun God which was also one of the most important deities in the Maya world.
The Jade Head, is perhaps the largest single carved jade object found in the Mayan world, weighing 9.75 pounds and 6 inches high.
The nearby “Rockstone Pond” which supplied the metrópoli with water was in reality a man made reservoir lined with clay to facilitate water retention.
Text researched and written by: Ramón Cervantes Martínez
Ramón is a Social Anthropologist (Ethnologist) who carried out research in Western Belize, in the Mayan Yucatecan village of San Antonio, Belize. He has also trained professionally in other areas of human development such as psychotherapy and clinical sexology. He is a world traveler and místic who treasures living life fully. Presently he is involved as one of the team members in the operations of Zippy Zappy Mayan Travels.