Site of extensive Pre-Columbian
Maya settlement in northern Belize, on a low ridge on the west shore of the New River Lagoon at its northern end, where the lagoon drains northwards along a winding jungle river. It is a commanding location that has obvious strategic advantage for the control and exploitation of the river passage north to Chetumal Bay. Archaeological excavations, which have sampled approximately 10% of the structures mapped, indicate that the site was occupied continuously from the middle Pre-Classic period (c. 1000–c. 300
The monumental ceremonial and élite precinct of Lamanai extends along slightly more than 1 km of the lagoon edge, and the site as a whole appears to be contained within an area of 4.5 sq. km on the higher ground along its shore. Within this area, 718 buildings were recorded, most of which appear to be élite ceremonial structures and residences. Test excavations by ...