February 11, 2016

2283 BELIZE - Caracol Mayan Site

Caracol (which means "snail" in spanish) is the name given in 1938 by the british archaeological commissioner A. H. Anderson to a large ancient Maya archaeological site, located on the Vaca Plateau at an elevation of 500m above sea-level, in the foothills of the Maya Mountains. It seems that its ancient name was Oxwitza' (Three-Hills Water), and it covered approximately 200 square kilometers, a lot more than present-day Belize City, and supported more than twice the modern city's population.

At Caracol, there are approximately 267 structures per square kilometer, which are generally situated equidistantly and are integrated with the terrace system. The town grew into one of the largest ancient Maya cities, with an estimated population of over 100,000. The area was occupied as early as 1200 BC, yet occupation in the epicentral area was no earlier than 650 BC and lasted no later than AD 950. It boasts 53 carved stone monuments, and more than 250 burials and 200 caches.

Caracol is noted not only for its size during the Maya Classic era (A.D. 250-950), but also for its prowess in war; this includes an AD 562 defeat of Tikal (located 76km to the northwest, now in Guatemala) and a subsequent conquest of Naranjo (now also in Guatemala, at halfway between the two cities) in AD 631. The last recorded date at Caracol is AD 859. Structure A6 was abandoned in AD 1050, and marks the final abandonment of the site.

About the stamps
The stamps are part of the 2005 definitive series of twelve stamps featuring Ecological and Heritage Sites around the country, about which I wrote here.

Caracol - Wikipedia
Caracol - Official website

Sender: Joseph Koop (direct swap)
Sent from Spanish Lookout (Belize), on 01.07.2015
Photo:Jaime Awe

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