Nim Li Punit, meaning "Big Hat" in Maya, is a small site in the Toledo District. It is siutated on a ridge in the foothills of the Maya Mountains just off the Southern Highway, 25 miles north of Punta Gorda.
* Nim Li Punit is regarded as a ceremonial center
* The site consists of two plazas (one higher than the other).
* 25 Stelae (8 are carved)
* The largest structure is 33-40 feet above the plaza level and is constructed of dry sandstone,
typical of sites in southern Belize.
* 3 plaza areas
* 1 ballcourt
The concentration of so many stelae makes this a unique site. The south group staelae are the most impressive, with one stelae in particular showing a warlord with a fancy headdress, giving it the name "Big Hat". The site was largely occupied in the late Classic period.
Nim Li Punit was "discovered" by oil company workers in 1976. Government Archaeologist Jaime Awe and Norman Hammond began to clear and investigate the site shortly thereafter. Later, Barbara McLeod did a preliminary survey of the hieroglypic inscriptions on the carved stela. In 1983, Richard Leventhal surveyed the site, when another steal was found, as well as a royal tomb, which yielded 36 cermaic vessels and other valuable artifacts.
As with Lubaantun, the MASD Project in the 1990's also excavated and conserved several structures at the site and erected a new visitor's center. During excavations, a carved Late Classic Period steal was discovered and a royal tomb was found in the central acropolis. The carved steal is particulary interesting because it contains the emblem glyph of Copan. This indicates that the sites in southern Belize may have had political relations with their larger neighbors in Honduras.
Found on a hill overlooking San Ignacio town, Chala Pech is one of many sites located in the Cayo District. Cahal Pech means "place of ticks", and was given this name due to the number of ticks that flourished there while it was cattle pasture in the 1950's. The site sits in a rich jungle environment, in contrast to the urban development that encircles the site core and reserve. The main plaza of Cahal Pech is located on a hill on the west bank of the Macal River and provides the visitor with a wonderful view of San Ignacio and the Belize River.
SITE PARTICULARS - Occupied about 1,200 B.C. / abandoned about 850 A.D.
* The site center is made up of 34 structures located around several courtyards, including
temple pyramids and residential buildings.
* The tallest structure here is 77 feet high
* There are also 2 ballcourts
* 9 stelae
* 1 altar.
Preliminary investigations carried out in 1988, revealed that Chala Pech was settled by 1,200 B.C. and abandoned around 850 A.D. This makes Cahal Pech one of the earliest Maya sites in the Belize region of the Maya lowlands, contemporaneous with Cuello in the north. A carved monument discovered at Cahal Pech, Stela 9, is also the earliest carved stela yet discovered in the eastern May lowlands.
Reports about the existence of Cahal Pech date back to the 1950's, when Linton Satterwaite of the University of Pennsylvania did some mapping and excavations there, but little information came from this study. In 1953-1955, Gordon Willey of the Harvard University toured the site. A brief description of Cahal Pech appears in his 1965 Belize Valley Report. By 1969, Peter Schmidt did some work at the site, concentrating on a royal tomb in a large temple. Here, a ruler had been laid to rest with a number of ornate jade objects, obsidian blades, shell and bone ornaments, and several ceramic vessels. The most outstanding find at Chala Peh was a jade and shell mosaic mask, which may have possibly been decoration for a belt. This mask was found in the tomb excavated by Schmidt.
Between 1970-1985, the site was looted extensively. The Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) organized a thorough archaeological investigation, carried out by Belizean archeologist Dr. Jamie Awe in 1988, and leading to the discovery of Stela 9.
Trent S. Turley
My name is Trenton S. Turley, and I am a Belizean citizen who has now been living in the country of Belize for the past 15 years. I am also an environmental activist. Our family moved to Belize, when I was 8 years old. I speak English, Spanish, Kriol and American Sign Language. I have a true love for the eco-system of Belize, with regards to preserving this beautiful countries resources.
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