Stela 9

Northern Belize

North of the elite residential complex, this temple was the original site of the intricately carved standing stone erected in AD 625 to commemorate the accession of Lord Smoking Shell in AD 608 that is now on display in the site museum. A faithful replica has been placed in front of the temple in the original position.

The stone shows the leader in ceremonial regalia, wearing a rattlesnake headdress with quetzal feathers at the back, and holding a double-headed serpent bar diagonally across his body, with a deity emerging from the serpent's jaw at the top. The remains of five children – ranging in age from newborn to eight – were buried beneath the stela. Archaeologists believe the burial must have been highly significant, since offerings are not usually associated with the dedication of monuments.