Nim Li Punit

Nim Li Punit Ruins

Nim Li Punit, is a Maya Classic Period site in the Toledo District of the nation of Belize, located 40 kilometers north of the town of Punta Gorda, at 16° 19' N, 88° 47' 60W. Nim Li Punit is sometimes known as Big Hat or Top Hat; the name is Kekchi Maya language for "Big Hat", referring to the large elaborate head-dress on a stela sculpture found on site depicting one of the site's ancient kings.

Nim Li Punit is a medium sized site from the Maya Classic Period, flourishing from the 5th century AD through the 8th century AD. It consists of structures around three plazas, including several step-pyramids, the tallest being 12.2 meters high. The site has a number of carved stelae illustrating the ancient city's rulers. Several stelae are in an unfinished state, suggesting a sudden halt to work. The site is near Belize's Southern Highway and is open to visitors subject to an admission charge.

Nim Li Punit is situated in the foothills of the Maya Mountains with proximity to clear mountain streams. The Maya Mountains form a difficultly penetrated backdrop forest to the north and east, while the expansive somewhat swampy coastal lowlands adjoining the Caribbean Sea lie to the east Low lying swampland between the Sarstoon and Temash Rivers is situated to the south.. The site is within two kilometers of Belize's Southern Highway, accessed by an unpaved road. (The Southern Highway itself is unpaved in the vicinity of the site as well.) Area soils are relatively fertile for tropical standards, and explain the region's ability to support sizable prehistoric settlements such as Nim Li Punit. Local sandstones are found in nearby stream and river beds, and these materials were used as the principal building stones for the site's structures and stelae. The Maya Mountains and foothills are among the oldest surface rock formations of Central America; these Paleozoic sediments were uplifted about 200 million years ago in the Pennsylvanian and early Permian eras.