What to Bring Along

  • Comfortable clothes for the tour
  • Comfortable shoes for walking around the site
  • Cameras
  • sunscreen
  • hat
  • bug spray
  • snacks & water
  • Intensity: Easy

The name Nim Li Punit is derived from a carving on one of the site's twenty six stelae, which depicts a figure wearing a large headdress. In the Maya Kekchi language, Nim li Punit means "the big hat." The monument on which this carving appears is the longest stela in Belize (Stela 14), originally located in an area called Plaza of the Stelae.

Nim Li Punit is a small site in the Toledo District. It is situated on a ridge in the foothills of the Maya Mountains just off the Southern Highway, 25 miles north of Punta Gorda. Nim Li Punit is regarded as a ceremonial center consisting of two plazas, one higher than the other. There are 25 stelae of which 8 are carved. The largest structure is 33-40 feet above the plaza level and is constructed of dry, sandstone typical of sites in southern Belize. There are 3 plaza areas and a ballcourt. The concentration of so many stelae makes this a unique site.

Archaeology of Nim Li Punit

The site was largely occupied in the Late Classic Period. Nim Li Punit was "discovered" by oil company workers in 1976.

Government Archaeologist Jaime Awe and Norman Hammond began to clear and investigate the site shortly thereafter.  Later, Barbara McLeod did a preliminary survey of the hieroglyphic inscriptions on the carved stela.  In 1983, Richard Leventhal surveyed the site and in 1986 sunk test pits. Another stela was found as well as a royal tomb which yielded 36 ceramic vessels and other valuable artifacts.  Like at Lubaantun, the MASD Project in the 1990's also excavated and conserved several structures at the site and they erected a new visitor's center.  During excavations a new carved, Late Classic Period, stela was discovered and a royal tomb was found in the central acropolis.  The carved stela is particularly interesting because it contains the emblem glyph of Copan.  This indicates that the sites in southern Belize may have had political relations with their larger neighbour in Honduras.