Archeologists working at the Maya ruin site of Xunantunich in Cayo District have unearthed what may be the biggest tomb ever found in Belize. Discovered underneath one of the central buildings at the site, the tomb contains the undisturbed remains of an adult male estimated to be in his 20s or 30s buried alongside a number of ceremonial items, including four obsidian blades, vases, pots, and the remains of what archeologists believe is either a jaguar or a deer.
While work is still ongoing at the site, archeologists have given a preliminary date for the tomb, estimating it to have been built in the Late Classic Period (roughly 700 to 1000 AD). Dr. Jaime Awe, the lead archeologist at the site, spoke to the media about the discovery of what he believes to be the tomb of a Maya ruler and has installed a Plexiglas window so that tourists can view the newly-discovered remains.
After being abandoned some time during the end of the post-Classical period, the site of Xunantunich was rediscovered in the late 19th century when Belize was a British colony. Thomas Gann, the district commissioner of Cayo District, began excavations at the site, which was given the name Xunantunich, a Maya name which means “Stone Woman”. Since 1892, visitors to the site have reported seeing a woman dressed entirely in white with glowing eyes that haunts the temple known as “El Castillo” (The Castle).
Xunantunich has been excavated almost continuously since the late 19th century but this month’s discovery by archeologist Dr. Jaime Awe is the very first tomb ever found at the site. The central core of Xunantunich measures more than a square mile (2.6 km2) and archeologists have already excavated more than 26 buildings. The most photographed feature at Xunantunich is “El Castillo”, a large pyramid at the center of the site that is covered in stucco friezes depicting important stories from Maya mythology.
Chabil Mar & Xunantunich
The lovely Chabil Mar resort on the Placencia Peninsula is close to all of the most exciting mainland destinations in Belize. Guests of the resort can include a visit to Xunantunich as part of one of Chabil Mar’s fantastic Belize Reef & Jungle vacation packages.