The city dates from the Maya Classic era, flourishing from the 730s to the 890s, and seems to have been completely abandoned soon after. The architecture is somewhat unusual from typical Classical central lowlands Maya sites. Lubaantun's structures are mostly built of large stone blocks laid with no mortar. Several structures have distinctive "in-and-out masonry"; each tier is built with a batter, every second course projecting slightly beyond the course below it. Corners of the step-pyramids are usually rounded, and lack stone structures atop the pyramids; presumably some had structures perishable materials in ancient times.
The centre of the site is on a large artificially raised platform between two small rivers; it has often been noted that the situation is well suited to military defense.
The ancient name of the site is currently unknown; "Lubaantun" is a modern Maya name meaning "place of fallen stones".
Modern History of Lubaantun At the start of the 20th century inhabitants of various Kekchi[?] and Mopan[?] Maya villages in the area mentioned the large ruins to inhabitants of Punta Gorda. Dr. Thomas Gann[?] came to investigate the site in 1903, and published two reports about the ruins in 1905.
The next expedition was led by R. E. Merwin of Harvard University's Peabody Museum[?] in 1915 who cleared the site of vegetation, made a more detailed map, took measurements and photographs, and made minor excavations. Of note Merwin discovered one of the sites three courts for playing the Mesoamerican ballgame, which had stone markers with heiroghyphic texts and depictions of the ballgame.
In 1924 Gann revisited the ruins, and then led adventurer F.A. Mitchell-Hedges[?] to the site. In his typically sensationalistic fashion, Mitchell-Hedges published an article in the Illustrated London News[?] claiming to have "discovered" the site. Gann made a new map of the site. The following year Mitchell-Hedges returned to Lubaantun with his companion Lady Richmond Brown and his daughter Anna, and conducted some minor excavations. Mitchell-Hedges wrote that the famous Crystal skull[?] was found here at this time, although some archeologists strongly suspect that Mitchell-Hedges planted the skull for his daughter to find on her birthday. Uncharacteristically the publicity loving Mitchell-Hedges did not even publish any mention of the skull until the 1940s.
The British Museum sponsored investigations and excavations at Lubaantun under T.A. Joyce in 1926 and 1927, establishing the mid to late Classic period chronology of the site. After this Lubaantun was neglected by archeologists (although it suffered some looting by tresure hunters) until 1970, when a joint British Museuem, Harvard, and Cambridge University project was begun led by archeologist Normand Hammond.
Lubaantun is now accessible to visitors by automobile and has a small visitor's centre. As of 2001 an admission fee of 10 Belizian dollars is charged visitors.