Sep 5, 7 years ago

La Blanca Mayan Ruins in Guatemala

La Blanca Mayan Ruins in Guatemala

Spanish researchers from the University of Valencia are doing all they can to keep up with excavations of Mayan ruins in the highlands of Guatemala, but discoveries of new ruins are rapidly outpacing the pace of excavation and research that the archaeologists are capable of. The Guatemalan countryside is littered with small hills that conceal ancient ruins that lay only 50 centimeters below. There are currently 6,000 active sites from the Mayans alone – not Zapotecas, not Mixtecas – but scientists estimate that undiscovered sites number conservatively in the tens of thousands, with each site comprised of well over one hundred distinct buildings. Today we’ll look at the La Blanca ruins in the low basin of the river Mopán near Petén in western Guatemala.

La Blanca is one of Mesoamerica’s largest sites at 26 hectares (64 acres) and one site that pioneered the construction of the classic Mayan structure, the temple pyramid. Other structures include an acropolis, palace, terraces, structures with 4 meter vaulted ceilings, and even a statue, indicating that this site was likely a retreat for royalty. The precise stonework and advanced engineering set this site apart. Graffiti and etchings on interior walls reveal ancient blueprints for other structures in the complex.

The collapse of this dominant and widespread empire is what makes these extensive and complex ruins so mysterious and intriguing. Dating back to 2,000 B.C., the civilization grew in strength until its decline began in the 8th or 9th century.

Several tour companies run day trips to La Blanca and another nearby site named Yaxha. Whatever your budget or interests, I think checking out these ruins with a knowledgeable guide will be well worth your time and money.

Lead Photo: CC Image used courtesy of szeke on Flickr


Ryan is a writer, photographer, and teacher living and volunteering throughout Latin America.

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