Caracol is a large ancient Maya archaeological site located in the Cayo District of Belize, approximately 40 kilometers south of Xunantunich and San Ignacio. Situated on the Vaca Plateau at an elevation of 500 meters, it was one of the most important regional political centers of the Maya Lowlands during the Classic Period. The site spans about 200 square kilometers, much larger than present-day Belize City, and supported a population more than twice that of the modern city. Originally thought to be a tertiary center, Caracol is now recognized for its significant political and cultural influence.

Caracol’s name, meaning “snail” or “spiral” in Spanish, refers to the winding access road to the site. The city featured approximately 267 structures per square kilometer, 85% higher than Tikal, and was integrated with a terrace system. The population is estimated to have peaked between 120,000 and 180,000, as revealed by LIDAR technology. Occupied from as early as 1200 BC, Caracol had its epicentral area inhabited between 650 BC and AD 950. The site contains 53 carved stone monuments, over 250 burials, and 200 caches, reflecting its extensive trade networks and regional economic integration during the Early Classic period. Caracol was officially founded in AD 331 by Te’ K’ab Chaak, with early influences from northern Mexico indicated by Teotihuacan-style cremations.

Polychrome Glyphic Vase

This vase features stunning colors with a light blue rim.  Below the blue paint lies some glyphs that are somewhat hard to read due to their eroded condition.  However, the remainder of the vase shows some geometric painted patterns in multiple colors.

Polychrome Vessel

The vase has a duo- chromatic color scheme.  With a red painted rim, the pattern below shows some varying patterns that even the passage of time could not erase.

Polychrome Vessel

This short, rounded vessel features a repeating pattern of two pointed stripes around the body. The rim has a pink paint slip, possibly a faded red. The paint shows signs of flaking, likely from excavation. Its exact function is unknown, but it showcases ancient Maya creativity.

Tall vase

This vase actually comes as a pair. The twin vases are tall and beautifully preserved.