Lubaantun ruins, Belize: curse within the crystal skull


Of course, you’ll find exceptions. The Egyptian pyramids and Machu Picchu would inspire probably the most unimaginative of beings but in the truth with the world’s lesser-known sites, a robust dose of visualisation will pay off in spades.

Walking along a cleared patch of jungle towards the ruins of Lubaantun in southern Belize, Central America, I prepare mentally for connecting on this ancient Mayan city. Between AD730 and AD860, over 1000 people once lived within instructors hub that exploited the area’s rich soils, limestone and granite to be a centre for trade.

But before I could enter, seems like today’s Mayan descendants wish to meet up with me. The grassy trail for the entrance of Lubaantun is dotted with local along with kids planning to entice visitors buy handmade baskets, hair ornaments and brightly embroidered tea towels.

With 1300-year-old Mayan ruins just a stroll away, I’m reluctant to spend time debating whether a graphic of your toucan and the Mayan calendar is best to my future washing-up needs. Purchasing a small woven trinket, I’m struck because of the enormity of the women’s task. Despite its set up history, only five to 10 people make journey in the Toledo district’s bumpy jungle roads to visit Lubaantun by using an average day.

I wish to believe facts speak more on the ruins’ remote location over a absence of interest on the part of tourists. Most visitors to Belize tend to be more tempted via the world-class dive sites found up north, rather than crumbling pyramids hidden away during this tiny country’s cultural south. Although fantastic those of you that increase the risk for trip, the issue of visitors hardly spells high-earning prospect of the locals. One local who will seem pleased with his lot is Lubaantun caretaker Santiago Coc.

I find him sitting beneath the trees near one of the large forecourts and then he informs me in the ancient football game, pok-ta-pok, played here by his Mayan ancestors.

“They played on one for these narrow courts while wearing masks,” says Coc, even as both switch our imaginations firmly on. Lubaantun is well known because of its ceramic works and Coc says it is always usual to find ceramic figurines within the rubble about the rundown-looking pyramids: “The ceramics often show the elephant masks worn by the players.”

Of course, what is best known about Mayan sports in excess of the uniforms was their tendency to involve human sacrifice. Coc, a graduate of Belize’s Institute of Archaeology, disapproves one can tell the guidelines of pok-ta-pok, who have been played to unravel problems and not only for fun.

“For sure, in all probability it involved death. Many people say the losers were decapitated, others believe the winner died.”

While Lubaantun still features numerous pyramids, which Coc explains all faced east “so the priests can use these to make offerings towards gods”, they can be shorter and squatter than many others in the community.

In neighbouring Guatemala, Tikal’s well-preserved pyramids poke spectacularly away from the jungle canopy, while Mexico’s Chichen Itza draws crowds due to its impressive step pyramid, El Castillo. Within Belize, the weather is far more low key. Still, wandering the peaceful site uninterrupted helps make the journey worthwhile just in case that weren’t enough, the same is true the parable in the crystal skull.

While archaeologists don’t know considerably with regards to the lives of Lubaantun’s ancient residents, they understand much less in regards to the quartz-crystal artefact reportedly unearthed within 1924. The best with the world’s crystal skulls, the so-called “Skull of Doom” was apparently found here from the daughter of adventurer Frederick Mitchell-Hedges. Keeping the find secret for several years, Anna Hedges caused a sensation in 1970 when she revealed it around the world some years after her father’s death.

So far, every little thing with regards to the skull, from the discovery to production, is shrouded in mystery. Some voice it out was found in a hole, others report it had become in the altar as for a way that it was made, no one is sure. One art restorer reported, upon analysing the piece, that they had found no evidence it being formed by metal objects; rather, it may well are actually shaped by diamonds and sand over almost 300 years.

Today, affinity for the crystal skull remains widespread. New Agers think it (plus the world’s other crystal skulls) holds magical powers; and although the prime priest of your Maya supposedly put on the extender to create on death, for archaeological buffs the skull’s existence is among the the unsolved mysteries surrounding Lubaantun. If there’s one party that ultimately believes during the Skull of Doom, it really is Hollywood executives: last year’s movie Indiana Jones As well as the Kingdom On the Crystal Skull flopped for the box office.

Skull or no skull, Coc is interested in the ruins of Lubaantun and loves being so closely linked to his Cholan Maya heritage.

“We are far other than the west here, the calendar additionally, the songs, on the other hand am a Maya and thing is me.”

– GETTING THERE Flights from Sydney to Miami via Los Angeles are typically priced from $1600-$2500 plus taxes but keep your eyes peeled for specials. See From Miami, fly to Belize City for about $US800 ($1042) return on American Airlines, then take a domestic flight on Tropic Air into Punta Gorda ($US102 one of the ways).

– GETTING AROUND Local tour operators will take you to Lubaantun from Punta Gorda, or make public bus. From Punta Gorda, use the San Miguel bus (11am daily) and get the motorist dropping you in the entrance path to Lubaantun. The web page is actually a 15- to 20-minute walk. Entry is priced at $US5 people.

– STAYING THERE Hickatee Cottages offers Caribbean-style cottages from a jungle setting 1.5 kilometres from Punta Gorda town. From $US75 a double. See Beya Suites has ocean views as well as being within walking distance of your town centre. Pricing is $US60 a double. See


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