Maya ruins in south Campeche

Tags: Balamku, Becán, Campeche, Chicanná, Maya ruins, Mexico

Date: March 11, 2019

We spent a day looking at ruined Maya cities in the area. The first and biggest one was Becán which means "ditch". There is indeed a ditch surrounding the central part of the city. It is quite normal that the original Maya names of cities is unknown, so they are typically named for some prominent feature of the ruins.

The first building is very impressive:

A nice passage which used to be mostly covered:

The tallest structure is around 30 meters high:

Seen from the top of another building:

We wondered why there was a rope to help climb this tallest building when a sign suggested not to climb it, both to protect the building and to avoid injury. It turns out that in 1984 one of Mexico's most important archaeologists, Román Piña Chán, fell from the building and got paralyzed. That might explain both the rope and the sign.

Felicie is standing next to an ancient stele (a carved figure) which is also used to hold the rope for aiding the climb of another building:

More nice structures:

This is the ball court, which is a feature found in many ancient Mayan cities:

Felicie is on her way up yet another steep building:

There is a nice view from the top:

This building had a few stairs and tunnels inside:

It is in fact the back side of the building in the first picture above.

The second site we went to is called Chicanná which means "house of the serpent mouth".

A couple of nice buildings from there:

In the corners of the top section of this building you can see faces with long noses:

Here is a closeup:

It must be images of Chaac, the rain god.

Felicie is standing next to an extra nose:

This is the structure from which the site was named:

Notice how the doorway is the mouth of a big face. It is a depiction of Itzamná which is a god also known as the earth monster which was in important god in this area. The sun rises behind the door, which is symbolic and related to the fact that it looks like it rises from the earth and Itzamná being the earth monster.

A nice thing about seeing these ruins is that they are out in the jungle, so there are many animals around. Here is an interesting birds' nest:

Bjarne found a hole in the ground that needed to be checked out:

The cave was not very large.

The final Maya city of the day was Balamku which means temple of the jaguar. Again, this is not the original name of the city, but one that it got from the depiction of a jaguar on a large freize found here. The site was discovered in 1990 and excavated in 1994 and 1995, so it is quite a recent find.

The site is not very large, but it has some nice buildings:

A sign near the entrance of the site helpfully informed us that "The Maya were never helped by extraterrestrial beings". Good to know...

This is a structure that is not fully excavated:

The most famous part of Balamku is the large freize depicting, snakes, jaguars, kings, gods, etc. It is protected by a building that was erected around it after it was found. The colors are original: