The Mayan ruins of Lamanai Belize once belonged to a sizable Mayan city in the Orange Walk District. "Lamanai" comes from the Maya term for "submerged crocodile", a nod to the toothy reptiles who live along the banks of the New River. Lamanai Belize jungle, which brims with exotic birds and hydrophilic iguanas. There is evidence on Mayan life that dates from about 1500 B.C. through Postclassic (A.D. 950-1544) and Spanish colonial times (A.D. 1544-1700).
The archaeological contexts in which copper objects have been recovered at the ancient Maya site of Lamanai in northern Belize have great significance in that these objects served great purpose for the residents of the community during Postclassic time that dates from A.D. 950-1544.Nearly all of the copper objects found at Lamanai are distinctly Mesoamerican in form and design and based on metallurgical analyses it appears that manufacturing technologies were distinctly Mesoamerican as well.
The vast majority of the site remained unexcavated until the mid-1970s. Archaeological work has concentrated on the investigation and restoration of the larger structures, most notably the Mask Temple, Structure N10-9 ("Temple of the Jaguar Masks") and High Temple. The summit of this latter structure affords a view across the surrounding jungle to a nearby lagoon, part of New River.
A significant portion of the Temple of the Jaguar Masks remains under grassy earth or is covered in dense jungle growth. Unexcavated, it would be significantly taller than the High Temple.
Lamanai is accessible to tourists by organized day boat trips from Orange Walk Town along the New River. A small museum exhibits local artifacts and provides a historical overview. Tourist facilities and small shops are available.