Nim Li Punit

Nim Li Punit is located just northeast of the village of Indian Creek in the Toledo district. This site got its name from the discovery of a carving on one of its many stelae, which depicts a figure wearing a large headdress. “Nim Li Punit” is Kekchi Maya for “the big hat”. The stela upon which this carving appears is the longest stela in Belize (Stela 14), and one of the tallest in the Maya world. Though it was never erected, it is about 30 feet tall. The site is relatively small, but many of its features suggest that it was an important religious and political community. It’s strategic location between the mountains and the seacoast facilitated trade.

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Mayan boys at Nim Li Punit

The site has been identified as a Late Classic site (700 – 900AD), with an estimated population of about 5000 – 7000 people. Nim Li Punit is characterized by the discovery of its many stelae (quite the opposite from its neighbor Lubaantun). Twenty-six stelae were found here, seven of them carved. Most of the carvings are quite impressive, and well preserved. They were found in the Plaza of the Stelae, and the organization of this plaza suggests that the area was used for making astronomical observations. The original stelae are displayed in the Stelae House near the Visitor’s center of the site.

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Stelae House

Other important features of the site include a walled ball court, and a Plaza of the Tombs. This was once a residential area for the ruling family of Nim Li Punit. There are no large structures, but the highest elevation is 67 meters. The site on the hill overlooks the lowlands below, and on a clear day, with exceptional vision, the coast can be seen from the highest elevation.

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Shopping for local crafts

Because of its proximity to the Kekchi village of Indian Creek, many of the village’s children walk up the hill to chat with the visitors. Many of the women bring items for sale, including woodcarvings, bead jewelry, ceramics, and tapestry. The friendly children will talk about their lifestyles, and share stories of their family. This is a nice place to meet new friends, and learn a couple of Kekchi words.

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