Lubaantun, “Place of the Fallen Stones” in Yucatec Maya, is located about one mile from the San Pedro Columbia village in the Toledo district. A Late Classic site, Lubaantun was a major center of religious, ceremonial, political and commercial activity during the eighth and ninth centuries AD (AD730 – 860). It was a farming community that traded with communities located in today’s Guatemala.
It is alleged that the Crystal Skull was found here. It is reported that in 1924, Frederick Mitchell-Hedges unearthed a quartz crystal artifact representing the human skull. This artifact is currently in the possession of his daughter Anna in Canada. Mystery and controversy surround the skull. Approximately five crystal skulls have been found around the world, but this particular skull is made with such precision, and is the size of an actual human skull. It also has a moveable jaw. Some have said that the skull has supernatural properties.
Lubaantun is characterized by the scarcity of sculptures. No stelae, carved or plain, no wall panels, and no altars are known from this site. A very limited amount of glyphs and sculptures have been discovered. Despite the scarcity of sculptures, a large number of pottery figurines, most mold-made, are found here. Molds were made by carving an original design in a material such as wood. A lump of clay was then pressed around the original, and trimmed with a sharp edge. The clay mold was then allowed to dry and heated with fire. The mold was then ready to be used to create the figurines. The small visitor’s center at the site displays some of the figurines found at the site.
Lubaantun has eighteen plazas and three ball courts, and its architecture is characterized by vertical, narrow or broad stepped facing, and no corbelled vaulting (Maya arches). The tallest structure rises 50 feet above the plaza. Buildings were constructed by layering stone blocks, carved and fitted perfectly together, without the use of mortar. Most of the main buildings have rounded corners.
This site is smaller than many of the larger, more popular sites in Belize, but it is unique, and certainly worth a visit. The Mayan children in nearby villages will come and chat, and play in the open ball courts. After having seen the massive buildings at some of the other Mayan sites, the intimacy of this site evokes an unusual welcoming feeling, one of hospitality and closeness.