Nohmul

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Nohmul, meaning “Great Mound,” is 20 meters above sea level and is situated on a low, limestone ridge east of the Rio Hondo between Orange Walk and Corozal. Nohmul lies among sugarcane fields and is actually the highest landmark in the Orange Walk/ Corozal area. It is about a mile from the Northern Highway between San Pablo and San Jose.

The site was first recorded in1897 by Thomas Gann. In 1908 and 1909 Gann returned to the site to dig what he thought were burial mounds containing polychrome vessels and human effigy figures. Gann continued excavating up to 1936 uncovering tombs and caches which yielded human bones, jade jewelry, shells, polychrome vessels, chultuns, flint and obsidian. Most of these finds were taken to the British Museum. Later on A. H. Anderson and H.J. Cook visited Nohmul to inspect damages to the site. In 1973, 74, and 78, Norman Hammond (then with Cambridge University) mapped the site. Hammond returned in 1982 to do a more intensive Nohmul Project which lasted until 1986.

Hammond’s work suggests that Nohmul was first occupied in the Middle Pre-Classic Period.  Occupation of the site during the Late Pre-Classic Period was associated with the use of drained fields at Pulltrouser Swamp to the east of the center.  By Early Classic times it is possible that the site functioned as a regional center, and that it governed much of the area around the modern communities of San Jose and San Pablo.  During the Late Classic Period the site’s fortune waned and it was gradually abandoned. During the Terminal Classic/ Early Post-Classic the acropolis was re-used as a residential area. Today the ruins of Nohmul represent a major ceremonial center with twin ceremonial groups, ten plazas and a sacbe or raised causeway. There is at least one ballcourt. The main structure is a 50 by 52-meter structure that is 8 meters high.  Unfortunately the site continues to be destroyed by road construction crews who bulldoze the mounds for gravel.