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Lamanai, Belize - Structures N10-40 & N10-41, Ballcourt
3rd Stop in N10-43, High Temple Plaza  


Lamanai Site map:

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Lamanai's Ballcourt

There are some intriguing facts about Lamanai's ballcourt:

1) Constructed in the middle of the N10-43 (high temple) plaza (typically Maya ballcourts are placed beside plazas), see map below for placement

2) Constructed very late, around AD 841 when other major city-states are beginning to decline

3) Although not the smallest it certainly does have a very narrow playing alley  












Lamanai's Ballcourt Marker

The 2006 summer field school sits on the uncarved limestone 1.5 meter ballcourt marker.  When D. Pendergast lifted this large marker (originally it was at the same level as the ground surface) he was one of the first to discover a dedicatory cache that contained 131 grams of liquid mercury!  The cache also contained a deep-sea Spondylous shell, 19g of cinnabar, and 100g of hematite.

We know very little about the ancient Maya ballgame that would have been played at Lamanai.  We do feel the players possibly utilized a rubber ball that may have been slightly larger then a softball.  Based on ethnographic accounts and depictions on vessels, structures, and even figurines some archaeologists believe players tried to keep the ball in play by using only their hips, knees, waist, and elbows.  The game may have been played for several reasons including 1) friendly, 2) to solve political disputes, and 3) to honor the underworld through human sacrifice of either the winner or loser?! 

Please see for more information on this fascinating topic.


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