Lamanai Maya Ruins
The Lamanai site is one of the oldest continuously occupied Maya sites in Belize from about 1500 BC to 1680 AD. The name Lamanai means “submerged crocodile” in the Maya language’ a conclusion supported by the large number of crocodile representations found at Lamanai, including figurines, pottery decorations and the headdress of a 13 foot limestone mask found on a 6th century temple platform.
Lamanai, located on 950 ares (the site’s core is about a 12 square miles), is one of the largest Maya ceremonial sites in Belize, including more than 100 minor structures, a ball court and about 12 major buildings, most notably the Temple of the Mask, thought to be an Olmec God or Kinich Ahau, the Maya Sun God, the Temple of the Jaguar Masks and the High Temple (so-called because of its height).
Lamanai’s lay-out was quite different from most other Maya sites in Belize that were generally organized in plazas around a ceremonal structure. However, at Lamanai, most ceremonial buildings were built along the west bank of the New River and the New River Lagoon, with residential structures to the north, west and south.