Nim Li Punit is a classic period Maya site in the Toledo District. Located 25 miles (40 km) north of Punta Gorda. Nim Li Punit is sometimes known as Big Hat or Top Hat; “Nim Li Punit” is Kekchi Maya for “Big Hat”, referring to the large elaborate head-dress on a stelasculpture found on site depicting one of the site’s ancient kings.
Nim Li Punit 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 40 feet (12.2 m) 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.
It is situated in the foothills of the Maya Mountains close to clear mountain streams. The Maya Mountains form a difficult to penetrate backdrop to the north and east, while the expansive, 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.
Nim Li Punit was discovered in 1976. In the 1990s minor excavations were conducted by the Belize Department of Archaeology.