Mayan Ruins

El PilarEl Pilar Mayan Archaeological Site. The El Pilar Archeological Reserve for Maya Flora and Fauna is a legally declared cultural monument in both Belize and Guatemala.  The Reserve is emcompasses 5,000 acres, half in Guatemala in the Peten Department and half in Belize in the Cayo District.  The Belize portion of the Reserve is managed by the Belize Institute of Archaeology and the Guatemalan portion is managed by the Instituto de Antroplogia a Historia.

The El Pilar archaeological site covers about 120 acres and includes over 15 plazas, one ball court and hundreds of other buildings.  However, only strategic portions of buildings are exposed to preserve the buildings as much as possible.  (This style of presentation is called "Archaeology under the Canopy.")

The focus of excavation and presentation at El Pilar is on Maya houses, Maya ways of life and traditional Maya agriculture.  Therefore, the only fully exposed building at El Pilar is a house called Tzunu'un, and one of the most important features at El Pilar is a Maya forest garden  (Forest gardens use inter-cropping to cultivate trees, crops, and livestock on the same land and is a sustainable agroforestry system based on woodland ecosystems.)

El Pilar is the largest Maya site in the Belize River Valley and had a population of over 20,000 people during the Maya Classic Period.  Construction of monuments at El Pilar were started by the Maya around 800 BC (Middle Preclassic Period) and by 250 BC, El Pilar housed large public works.  

El Pilar means "watering basin" because of the abundant supply of water in the area - unusual for Maya sites.  

Latitude:    17° 7'60.00"N/Longitude:   89° 4'0.00"W