Xunantunich is an Ancient Maya archaeological site in western Belize, about 80 miles (130 km) west of Belize City, in the Cayo District. Xunantunich is located atop a ridge above the Mopan River, well within sight of the Guatemala border – which is a mere 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) to the west. It served as a Maya civic ceremonial center in the Late and Terminal Classic periods to the Belize Valley region. At this time, when the region was at its peak, nearly 200,000 people lived in Belize.
There is evidence of Xunantunich being settled as early as the ceramic phase of the Preclassic period. The findings have been insubstantial to prove that Xunantunich was a site of importance. It was not until the Samal phase in AD 600-670 that Xunantunich began to grow significantly in size. Architectural constructions boomed in Hats’ Chaak phase (AD 670-750) when Xunantunich’s connection with the polity Naranjo solidified. Left in a state of abandonment at approximately AD 750 due to an unknown violent event (see Euan MacKie’s work in 1959-60, above, which may be relevant here), Xunantunich did not re-establish itself as a strong presence in the region until Tsak’ phase in AD 780-890.