Nim Li Punit – Belize

Nim Li Punit

Nim Li Punit

More on the Maya

Nim Li Punit – Belize


This settlement from the Late Classic period (AD 600- 800) is situated south of the Golden Stream basin on a natural elevation in the Maya Mountain foothills known as the Toledo Beds, a complex series of sedimentary, sandstone and slate rocks from the Oligocene and more recent limestone from the Cretacious period. Towards the east, the coastal plain stretches to the Caribbean and there are maize fields with hardly any rainforest in the area around the site; running along both ends of the hill on which it sits are small streams that the ancient Maya used for their own consumption and for irrigation purposes, just like their modern descendants today. The site is located near the village of Indian Creek, some 50 km from the town of Punta Gorda in the Toledo district, and 1.5 km west of the Southern Highway, mile 75. The site has a small museum for safeguarding the stelae with reliefs and hieroglyphic inscriptions, earthenware vessels and figurines, and other minor discoveries.

History of the explorations

The initial investigations in 1976 were undertaken by Norman Hammond of the University of Cambridge and Barbara McLeod of the University of Texas at Austin, who studied the iconography of the sculpted monuments and their hieroglyphic inscriptions; as a result of this research a map of the pre-Hispanic settlement was drawn up, the monuments were classified and the principal group was excavated. In 1983, as part of his survey of southern Belize, Richard Leventhal excavated the upper plaza on behalf of the Belizean government and with foreign funding. In 1986 he identified another stela and a royal tomb containing the remains of five individuals as well as over 35 ceramic vessels and countless grave goods.

Site description and monuments

The name Nim Li Punit is Kekchi Maya for ‘Big Hat’ and was assigned by Joseph Palacio, the Archaeological Commissioner for Belize at the time the site was discovered by oil company workers in 1976. It makes reference to the prominent headdress of the figure depicted on Stela 14. Although Nim Li Punit has neither the impressive architecture nor the exquisite stonework to be found at Lubaantun, it is relatively similar in general terms and compensates for these omissions with a collection of 26 stelae, seven of which are sculpted; the largest is Stela 14, which at 9.5 m is the longest discovered in Belize and the second longest monument in the Maya area after Stela E at Quirigua. This site was initially believed to be a secondary centre dependent on Lubaantun, but archaeological studies have demonstrated that it was a large settlement and must have served as the ceremonial centre for the surrounding population. Even so, its relationship with other large centres in Belize and southern Peten remains unclear.

The principal constructions are distributed on the crest of a group of low hills and comprise three groups: a ceremonial complex and two civic-residential groups for the ruling elite, situated north of the main group. The ceremonial precinct is composed of two plazas, one of which stands 4 m higher than the other. The stelae were erected in the lower, and larger, of the two plazas. This plaza is in turn situated approximately 5 m above the natural level of the terrain and the various stepped sections of the platform provided access to the main group via a ramp or stairway. The largest pyramid structure stands some 11m high, while another measures 65 m in length and 3 m in height. The upper, smaller plaza is delimited by the large pyramid, two square-plan pyramid structures – one of these (structure 7) contained a rich collective tomb excavated by Leventhal in 1985 – and three elongated platforms, two small ones and a longer one at the west end measuring 40 m in length and 2 m in height. The north-east end of this plaza opens on to the Ball Court, situated a few metres below these two platforms. The court is open-ended and approximately 20 m in length, with a smooth, circular marker at its centre. North-west of the Ball Court, in the West Group, the hill slopes were levelled with retaining walls to create two terraces on which stand low platforms and a pyramid structure 6 m high, which due to its topographical position is the most imposing construction of the group, despite not being excessively high. East of the West Group and north of the Ball Court lies the East Group, composed of various stepped terraces on which are numerous residential structures; the highest terrace resembles a small irregular plaza, delimited by four pyramids and various smaller mounds.

The main group contains 26 monuments – carved in the sandstone and slate found in the geological strata of the Toledo district – although this figure may change if the stela butts are included; these are still embedded in situ and surrounded by the fragments of a few scattered stelae. Seven monuments have reliefs and hieroglyphic inscriptions (stelae 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 14 and 15). No altars or stone slabs have been found, only the smooth ball court marker. The earliest monument, Stela 15, is inscribed with the Long Count date (AD 741), while the latest, Stela 3, possibly corresponds to the Maya date (AD 830). A distinctive feature of the monuments is their wide range of sculptural styles and formats, each one displaying a different treatment in terms of its inscriptions, apparel and other details. The sculptural tradition lasted approximately four katuns (80 years), but the sculpted monuments reveal great creativity for a centre that was apparently secondary in the hierarchy of settlements in southern Belize; besides, the site even has its own emblem glyph. Uxbenka, a smaller site, and Lubaantun, larger than Nim Li Punit, as well as other sites in the region formed the sociopolitical mosaic towards the end of the Classic era. The sudden emergence of small polities seeking to legitimise their ruling elites gave rise to instability and political fragmentation in the southern area of the Maya lowlands.

From: ‘The Maya: an architectural and landscape guide’, produced jointly by the Junta de Andulacia and the Universidad Autonoma de Mexico, 2010, pp254-256.

How to get there:

From Punta Gorda. The Belize bound bus leaves the centre of Punta Gorda at 08.00 and 10.00 (there are later departures but these are the best for visiting the site). The road leading to the site is on the north-eastern edge of the settlement of Indian Creek – about an hour from Punta Gorda. Bus fare B$5. The site is about 800m metres up a steepish hill from the main road. You might have a long wait to get back as the bus from Belize passes at around 11.30 and 12.30.


16d 19’ 16” N

88d 49’ 27” W



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Karl Marx Tomb and Memorial

Karl Marx Tomb - Highgate Cemetery, London

Karl Marx Tomb – Highgate Cemetery, London

More on Britain …

Karl Marx Tomb and Memorial

The British working class have shown themselves somewhat reluctant to take on board the revolutionary ideas of Karl Marx in the past. This is a shame on a number of levels but especially as he formulated his ideas based upon the what he learnt of how the first real ‘working class’ – in the sense of a class that was totally divorced and separated from the means of production – developed as the industrial towns of England sprung up from the mid-18th century onwards. But as they were so central to the development of his political and economic theories he lived and died in England and the Karl Marx Tomb and Memorial is in Highgate Cemetery, northern London.

Original Location

Karl Marx original tomb - Highgate Cemetery, London

Karl Marx original tomb – Highgate Cemetery, London

When Marx died on 14th March 1883 he was buried in the family plot which already contained his wife, Jenny, who had died a couple of years before. They weren’t alone for long as within a week of his death Marx was joined by his five year old grandson. The family’s life long friend and companion (who had started out as a servant) Helene Demuth joined them in 1890 – after helping Frederick Engels put together Marx’s notes that became the second volume of Capital – and then the last of the group to use the plot was Marx’s daughter, Eleanor, who died young in 1898.

This unremarkable and nondescript grave, tucked away in the central part of the cemetery, was Marx’s almost final resting place until the 1950s.

The plan for a Memorial

Coincidently or not (I’m not sure) very soon after the death of the great Soviet leader and Marxist-Leninist, JV Stalin, in March 1953, the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) made plans for a much more substantial memorial to the founding father of Marxism. An application was made, and permission given, for all the remains in the original location to be disinterred and reburied (in 1954) in a much larger plot close to one of the main pathways through the cemetery.

A commission was then given to a member of the CPGB, Laurence Bradshaw, a sculptor and he designed the plinth (made of marble), the very large bust of Marx (bronze) and also choose the quotes and completed the calligraphy. One thing he did which I very much liked and that was in no place will you see mention the sculptor’s name. This is in line with arguments I have made in relation to art commissioned and carried out under a system where Socialist Realism is in operation, in particular Albanian lapidars, that the artist should step back from the art work and not make it all about themselves. The memorial was unveiled on 15th March 1956 in a ceremony led by Harry Pollitt, at that time the General Secretary of the CPGB.

The Memorial

It’s quite a simple, and striking, monument. Whether I like it is another matter.

It’s a basic marble clad monolith upon which sits a huge bronze bust of Marx. The plinth is about 3 metres high and the bust must be at least a metre high itself. I think what makes the bust seem slightly strange is that Marx’s beard is virtually touching the edge of the plinth. He looks as if he is crouching down. Perhaps if Bradshaw had given Marx more of his shoulders then it wouldn’t look so pressed down. Apart from that I think it’s a good likeness of the proletarian ideologist.

On the front of the plinth, just under the bust, are the words ‘ Workers of all lands unite’, the final word, the most important word in the phrase, being on a separate line underneath, placed exactly in the centre. These words come from the very end of The Manifesto of the Communist Party although in authentic texts they are written as ‘Working men of all countries, Unite!’ The meaning is the same but with a different construction taking into account the way of thinking in the middle of the 19th century. Then just about halfway down, and centred, is the name ‘Karl Marx’.

Karl Marx Tomb - central plaque

Karl Marx Tomb – central plaque

Beneath his name (also centred and slightly indented) is the white marble plaque placed at the original site of the tomb. Or should I say ‘was’. It was damaged in February 2019 and now there’s a plastic facsimile in its place. Whether the original is underneath or has been taken away – either for conservation or for repair – I wouldn’t know. This is inscribed with the names of the five individuals in the tomb, with there birth and death dates.

On the bottom third, or so, of the plinth are the words ‘The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it’. These are the very final words from the Theses on Feuerbach, (point XI), which was written by Marx in the spring of 1845 – preceding the publication of The Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848). One slight quibble here. In the written text the words ‘interpreted’ and ‘change’ are emphasised. As Marx thought it important to do so in his text it’s a shame that Bradshaw didn’t also include, in some manner, the importance of that stress. All the text is highlighted in gold.

On each side of the plinth is a single olive wreath, close to the top and centred, in bronze. This can be interpreted in a number of ways, as in the past such wreaths have come to have various meanings. One would be a celebration of the successes and the achievements of Karl Marx. He was the first to formulate a coherent ideology which, if implemented in the manner expressed in the quotes on his tomb, is exclusively of use to and benefit for the working class and all other oppressed and exploited peoples of the world.

It would be difficult to suggest that the olive branches represent peace. Like all great ideologists many of Marx’s words can be taken out of context and thereby remove the revolutionary nature of Marxism. In his early writings Marx was clear on the need to complete replace the old system and replace it with one that was designed purely for the working class. If he had any doubts about that (which I don’t think he did) before 1871 he was clear in his own mind, and in his writings, that such a change would invariably have to be violent after the experience of the Paris workers in 1871. The ferocity of the reaction and the slaughter that accompanied the defeat of the Commune showed the world that once capitalism’s power was truly challenged they would stop at naught to crush any such attempt. Events worldwide in the almost 150 years since the Commune has proven that thesis time and time again.

There is nothing on the back of the plinth.

As an aside here it’s worth mentioning that at the time that the CPGB was making moves to commemorate Marx with the structure in Highgate Cemetery the Party itself was making moves to go against the very revolutionary essence of Marxism. The Party had already adopted the revisionist British Road to Socialism as its programme. By the end of the same year as the unveiling of the monument the Party leadership would accept the attacks made on JV Stalin by Khrushchev at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Subsequently the CPGB took the revisionist, capitulationist, side in the upcoming Polemic in the International Communist Movement.

Target of Vandalism

From the early days the monument has been the target for anti-Communist and Fascist elements within British society. In 1960 it was painted with yellow swastikas and suffered a couple of inept bombing attempts in the 1970s. There was also a paint attack in 2011. However, things have heated up recently as there have been two attacks this year (2019).

The first was on the night of 5th February 2019 when Marx’s name was chipped away at by a hammer. This might have done irreparable damage to the original marble plaque but it wouldn’t take too much to get a replica made. Whether the money or the will is there is another matter. Then, less than two weeks later, on 15th February 2019 it was daubed on three sides with anti-Communist slogans. These were easily cleaned off but I think the strip of red that runs down the facsimile of the plaque when I visited (in June 2019) was a remaining sign of that paint attack.

For those who believe and follow the ideas of Karl Marx a visit would be recommended if in the vicinity. The Marx monument was the result of a local, British initiative. The raising of a statue to Frederick Engels in Manchester was as a result of the failing of the revisionist system in the Ukraine. That’s also worth a visit.

How to get there:

Get to the centre of Archway (by the underground station) either by Tube or Bus. Then walk up Highgate Hill, away from the centre, passing the hospital and a statue of Dick Whittington’s cat, and at the top of the hill, by the church on the left, turn into Waterlow Park and exit by the bottom entrance which is right beside the entrance to Highgate Cemetery.






51° 33′ 58.32″ N

0° 8′ 38.04″ W

Highgate Cemetery (East) Plan

Highgate Cemetery (East) Plan

A paper map is given after paying at the entrance but if you want an idea before you arrive click on the above for a pdf version.

Opening Times and Entrance Costs:

Daily: (except 25 and 26 December)
10am to 5pm (March to October)
10am to 4pm (November to February)
last admission 30 minutes before closing.

Adults: £4.00 (capitalism even makes money out of revolutionaries – and the dead)

Under 18’s: Free

More on Britain …

‘King’ Zog’s remains return to Tirana

Ceremony at the new Zog tomb in Tirana

Ceremony on 17th November 2012

More on Albania ……

‘King’ Zog’s remains return to Tirana

The ‘democratic’ government of Albania embraces the country’s reactionary, feudal and fascist past in a ceremony marking the return of the remains of Ahmet Zogu.

On the 17th November 2012 a closed ceremony was held in a former royal palace (now a military barracks) to mark the return of Zogu’s bones from a cemetery in Paris where they had lain since the tyrants death in 1961. Very much an event for the politicians (it went virtually unnoticed in the city of Tirana) this occasion says much of how matters have developed in the small Balkan country since the chaos of the 1990s.

In politics such occasions are never ‘coincidental’, despite the protestations of the present Prime Minister, Sali Berisha. The date is very relevant for Tirana as it was on the 17th November 1944 that the city was finally liberated from German Fascism after a long and bitter battle (following years of guerrilla warfare) by the Communist led Partisan Army.

Neither was the location of the new tomb a matter of chance. It’s on the site of one of his former palaces and the place where his mother was buried after her death in 1934. Ten years later hatred of the Zogu family’s collaboration with Italian fascism meant that this tomb was blown up by the liberators of Tirana. Also the entrance to this once palace is directly across the road (Elbasan Road) to the National Martyrs’ Cemetery where those who died in the more than 5 year battle against fascist occupation are honoured. The cemetery overlooks the city from a high point in the south and is where the huge statue of Mother Albania holds high the red star of liberation.

Mother Albania, National Martyrs' Cemetery, Tirana

Mother Albania, National Martyrs’ Cemetery, Tirana

Berisha also sought to re-write history in his statement to the media. For the present Prime Minister Zogu’s running away from the country and making it to Britain when the Italians decided that direct rule was more desirable than his acquiescent collaboration; his suffering during his stay at The Ritz in London; and that his time in Parmoor Country House in Buckinghamshire are all indications of his ‘staunch anti-fascist struggle’. Whilst Zogu lived in such ‘hardship’ more than 30,000 Albanians died as a result of the fascist occupations, first Italian Fascist and then German Nazi, as well as huge material and economic destruction of what was still at that time a country barely out of feudalism.

The so-called Socialist Party didn’t attend the ceremony, some of the leadership claiming they were involved in a celebrations for those who fell in the liberation of Tirana, others in the town of Korca in the north working on a new party programme yet a couple of opportunist renegades did attend the dinner (anything for a free lunch?). But the Socialist Party can’t really hold the high ground when it comes to monarchism. It was they who, in 2002/3, used their majority in favour of allowing the return to Albania of the ersatz king’s descendants.

Zog's new tomb in Tirana

Zog’s new tomb in Tirana

Zogu as tyrant and usurper

Here it’s perhaps worthwhile to look at Zogu’s history before his cowardly desertion of the country in 1939. He was from a feudal landowning family and when he entered politics this was to maintain the control of the country in the hands of his class, and as much in his own hands as possible. He was Prime Minister from 1922-4 and due to his policies (after many years of feudal oppression of the people) was thrown out by a popular uprising. He returned with the support of the White Russian General Wrangle (who had been defeated earlier by the then young Soviet Red Army) as well as some Yugoslav fascists – so early on establishing himself as a collaborator with any foreign power that would support his ambitions, whatever the consequences for his country.

With military might on his side he was ‘elected’ President and three years later declared himself King Zogu I with the justification that he had some family connection to Skanderbeg, the 15th century national hero. (Even though Skanderbeg was a feudal lord the Communist government from 1944 to 1990 recognised that he stood, and fought, for national independence against the Ottoman Turks.) Claiming a blood relationship after a period of about 450 years was pushing it a bit far, probably all Albanians could have claimed some link to Skanderbeg in a country that barely had a million population at the beginning of the 20th century.

More on Albania …..