Cahal Pech lies within a beautiful, forested environment at the top of the hill overlooking San Ignacio Town. The visitors center displays a wide range of artifacts that include objects that were discovered at the site, information panels describing the development of Cahal Pech.
Cahal Pech is located on an imposing hill that overlooks the twin towns of San Ignacio/Santa Elena. The name of the site means “Place of Ticks” in the Yucatecan maya language. This name was coined in the 1950’s when the area around the site was used for pasture.
Archeological investigation indicates that Cahal Pech was first settled between 1200-1000 BC and abandoned around 800-900 AD. The site is particularly important for the information it has provided on the earliest Maya settlers of western Belize. Cultural remains suggest that the site’s first inhabitants were relatively sophisticated. They built large circular platforms that were used for ritual purposes, they carved many Mesoamerican or Olmec-like symbols on their pottery, imported jade and obsidian from Guatemala, modeled many figurines in the form of female persons, and produced decorative beads that were made from conch shells brought from the Caribbean coast.
In the Late Preclassic period (300 BC – 250 AD), Cahal Pech likely became one of the most important centers in the Belize River Valley region. A carved monument that dates to this time at the site is still the earliest carved Stela yet discovered in Belize.
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