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Lamanai BZ - Temple of the Jaguar Masks 02 | by Daniel Mennerich
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Lamanai BZ - Temple of the Jaguar Masks 02

The Mayan ruins of Lamanai once belonged to a sizable Mayan city in the Orange Walk District of Belize. "Lamanai" comes from the Maya term for "submerged crocodile", a nod to the toothy reptiles who live along the banks of the New River. Lamanai Belize jungle, which brims with exotic birds and hydrophilic iguanas. There is evidence on Mayan life that dates from about 1500 B.C. through Postclassic (A.D. 950-1544) and Spanish colonial times (A.D. 1544-1700).


At the site there is structure that dates back to AD 625. The Jaguar Temple, named for its boxy jaguar decoration; the Mask Temple, adorned by a 13-foot stone mask of an ancient Maya king; and the High Temple, offering visitors a panoramic view from its summit.


The most interesting features at the structure are two masks that decorate the west facade of the temple. The masks are on two levels on the south side of a central stairway.on the lower level the masks more than 15 feet high.It represents aa rather humanized face and is bordered by decorative elements. The headdress of the mask represents a crocodile. These masks are construed of stone armature covered with thick stucco into which the details are carved. The masks date to the late fifth to the early sixth century. At lamanai, ceremonialism was strongly developed, providing evidence of ruling authority with tight control over the populace.


At the large temple there was a single ball court, where an offering had been placed under its giant central marker. A lidded bowl contained 100g of crystalline hematite, 19 g of cinnabar in a miniature vessel, and other objects such as jade, shell, and pearl, all atop of a pool of mercury. Previously mercury had been found at Copan, Quirigua, and at Kaminaljuyo and lake Amtitlan, but not in such large quantity. This large amount of mercury found at the site of Lamanai had been probably collected for ritual use. Ceramics were also found at the site and gradually adopted new styles. Unfortunately, by the end of the Classic period, the norm here for burial custom was to smash vessels prior to interment.

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Taken on November 9, 2012