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Xunantunich

Xunantunich (shoo-NAHN-too-nich) is a Maya archaeological site in western Belize, about 80 miles west of Belize City, in the Cayo District. Xunantunich is located atop a ridge above the Mopan River[?], within sight of the Guatemala border. Its name means "Stone Woman" in the Maya language, and, like many names given to Maya archaeological sites, is a modern name; the ancient name is currently unknown. The "Stone Woman" refers to one of the carved stone stelae depicting the ancient ruling family of the site.


main plaza with Castillo in distance
Most of the structures date from the Maya Classic Era, about 200 to 900. There is evidence that some structures were dammaged by an earthquake while they were occupied; this earthquake may have been a reason for the site's abandonment.

The core of Xunantunich occupies about 1 square mile, consisting of a series of 6 plazas surrounded by more than 25 temples and palaces. One of its structures, the pyramid known as "El Castillo," is still the tallest structure in Belize, at some 130 feet tall. Archeological excavations have revealed a number of fine stucco fascades on some of the ancient temples of this site.



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