Land of the Maya

Pilar is one of Belize's largest Classic Maya centres. At least 15 courtyards or plaza groups cover an area of 20 hectares (50 acres), making it three to four times larger than Xunantunich. The complexity of the site suggests a long building sequence and the settlement density around the centre doubles that of the surrounding area.

Since Pilar has not yet been excavated, its historical context is still in question, but there are some initial indicators. On the basis of size alone, the site was unquestionably an important one: certainly archaeologist Anabel Ford believes it to be of significantly greater scale than Xunantunich. The mysterious wall which apparently runs from the site into the Peten remains unexplained.

The centre of Pilar consists of temples, palaces and elite structures, the tallest structure standing 70 ft. above the Plaza. At least one ball court has already been located and stepped walls elevate certain platforms and plazas above others. Water catchment reservoirs have already been located and one of the most interesting features of the site is a I to 1.5 metre (3.3 to 5 ft.) wall which runs westward from the site and probably into Guatemala. It is not yet known what the purpose of this wall was, nor has the end of it yet been found. It's interesting to note in this connection that the largest lowland Maya site of Tikal lies about 32 miles west of Pilar in Guatemala.

Pilar is not your typical Maya archaeological site. It doesn’t wow you with its imposing monumental temples, plazas, ball courts and residential palaces like Palenque or Tikal. Yet, it boasts 100 acres of plazas, pyramids and other structures, ranking it among the major ancient centers of the lowland Maya region.