Black Orchid resort offers tours to Xunantunich, one of the premiere Maya ruins in Belize. Last year, a team of archeologists led by Dr. Jaime Awe discovered an enormous tomb underneath one of the principle structures in Xunantunich. Believed to be the remains of a Maya ruler from the late Classical Period, the tomb is one of the largest ever discovered in Belize.
Although work is still progressing on excavating the newly-discovered tomb at Xunantunich, archeologists have installed a Plexiglas pane to allow visitors to see the skeleton of a man believed to be in his 20s or 30s buried with full ceremonial regalia, including five obsidian blades, jade beads, and the remains of what has been tentatively been identified as either a jaguar or a deer.
Xunantunich was once home to thousands of people but was abandoned at some point in the Post-Classic period for unknown reasons. The site was rediscovered at the end of the 19th century by the British colonial governor of Cayo District. Although no one knows the original name of the city-state, Xunantunich was given the Maya name “Stone Woman” because of multiple sightings of a ghostly woman dressed in white that appears in front of “El Castillo” (The Castle), the large pyramid that stands in the exact center of the city.
To reach Xunantunich, visitors must cross the Mopan River near the village of Succotz using a hand-cranked ferry, climbing up to the site which is perched upon one of the highest plateaus in the country. Archeologists have uncovered more than 26 temples and other buildings, including El Castillo, famed for its enormous stucco friezes that depict important scenes from Maya mythology. Despite archeological work ongoing since 1892, the recent discovery of the large tomb was the very first burial site ever found at Xunantunich.