Cahal Pech

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“All is silent and calm. Hushed and empty is the womb of the sky. THESE, then, are the first words, the first speech.” Thus begins The Popol Vuh, the Maya creation myth. A terrific tale relating how all things came into being. The Mighty Maya history spans over 3000 years across Central America from the Pacific to the Caribbean, as far north as Mexico and south into Honduras and El Salvador. Some of  the earliest known settlements are the Maya ruins in the Belize River Valley. Cody and I visited the small but ancient site of Cahal Pech, a short morning’s walk from our charming hotel of similar name. [caption id="attachment_1092" align="aligncenter" width="747"]Friendly staff, a panoramic view of the valley, modest rooms, and an excellent restaurant La Ixtabai Friendly staff, panoramic views, modest rooms, and an excellent restaurant La Ixtabai[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1093" align="aligncenter" width="342"]Walking to Cahal Pech Walking to Cahal Pech[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1097" align="alignnone" width="747"]The first structure encounter entering into the large plaza B, possibly used for markets and festivals The walkway leads to this Large Temple and Plaza- likely used for markets, festivals and events[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1098" align="alignnone" width="747"]Atop looking across plaza to entrance into the royal residence Atop Temple looking across Plaza to entrance into the Royal Residence[/caption] Cahal Pech's origins begin around 1200 BC. During peak population 300 BC to 300 AD, as many as 10,000 to 15,000 people lived in the surrounding fertile area known as the Belize River Valley.  The site consists of 34 large structures. Although many of the structures’ surfaces are rocky, during occupation the exterior was covered with smooth brightly painted limestone. [caption id="attachment_1102" align="aligncenter" width="747"]OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA small interior plaza[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1104" align="aligncenter" width="344"]An Elite residence An Elite residence[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1103" align="alignnone" width="747"]Remnant of painted limestone surface Remnant of painted limestone surface[/caption] Many of the Maya cities lay beneath the jungle floor. Every year, new archaeological findings contribute to the understanding of an advanced civilization, from astronomy, math, music, art, architecture, and language, to a sophisticated society with organized religion, government, record keeping, and agriculture. Cahal Pech is a primitive site with a highly advanced structure. The largest building is believed to be a Royal Palace or Administrative Building used only by the ruling elite. [caption id="attachment_1112" align="aligncenter" width="570"]OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Exterior View of Royal Palace[/caption] [caption id="attachment_1106" align="alignnone" width="747"]The royal residence as seen from interior plaza The Royal Palace from main interior plaza[/caption] The site was abandoned approximately 900 AD. Recent archaeology findings of sediment layers at the Great Blue Hole in the Caribbean have revealed a major drought in the area from 800-900 AD which may have contributed to site abandonment. Another possible reason is conquest by another great Maya ruler. Cahal Pech is the ancient beginnings of a advanced society. Although the site was abandoned, the Maya civilization existed until the Spanish invasion in the 1500's. Disease and conquest were the eventual ruin. Today there are over 10 million Maya living in Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize. To learn more about Cahal Pech visit the Belize Institute of Archaeology website: http://www.nichbelize.org/ia-maya-sites/archaeology-of-cahal-pech.html If you wish to visit Belize and the spectacular Maya ruins in the Belize River Valley, we recommend the Cahal Pech Village Resort. The hotel rooms and cabanas have pleasant views overlooking the valley below. There is a delicious restaurant (the shrimp ceviche was the best I ever had and a great breakfast buffet) and 2 pools. Tours of the surrounding area can be booked thru the hotel. www.cahalpech.com [caption id="attachment_1119" align="alignnone" width="747"]OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Local Artist rendering of Cahal Pech Village Resort (Artist name not available)[/caption] Next Week: The Belize Barrier Reef
adventure adventure travel Adventures Belize Cahal Pech Cahal Pech Village Resort Historic Travel History Maya Maya Ruins Mayan Ruins outdoor adventure Ruins of Belize The Cayo District travel abroad travel journal travels abroad

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