Archaeologists Discover Mysterious Mayan Citadel in Belize

Archaeologists Discover Mysterious Mayan Citadel in Belize


Recent findings in Belize have Archaeologists scratching their heads. Researchers have been exploring the ancient Mayan city of El Pilar in Belize for years, but the recent discovery of a citadel with a structure unlike that of other Mayan sites is unusual.

Anabel Ford, the lead archaeologist on the discovery, told Popular Archaeology that the citadel “does not meet with any traditional expectations. It shares nothing in common with Classic Maya centers: no clear open plaza, no cardinal structure orientation, and curiously no evident relationship to the major Classic site of El Pilar, little more than 600 meters away.”

The researchers used light detection and ranging (LiDAR) laser technology to locate the citadel in El Pilar, which had about 20,000 residents. The city’s construction began around 800 B.C.E.

This site is just different all around.

As the lead archaeologist stated, the site doesn’t include a “clear open plaza” or a “cardinal structure orientation,” Ford says, which would have been typical of Mayan centers. Ford also found it odd that the citadel features “no evident relationship” to other structures at the El Pilar site. The citadel does, however, feature four temple-like buildings and terraces that are arranged in a way suggesting they are “defensive fortifications, hence why Ford calls the structure on a nearby hill the Citade with it’s concentric terraces.

Also found within the Citadel are four buildings that the archaeologists refer to as temples, each about 3 to 4 meters tall. The era of construction is unknown until archaeologists excavate and examine ceramics and to do C14 dating of organic materials around the ruins. Ford projects that it would take one season to determine whether the ruins are from the pre-Classic period prior to 250 BC, the Classic period of 200 to 1000 AD or the post-Classic era after 1200 AD.

Finding the period it belonged to could also determine why it was isolated.


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