Chicanná Mayan ruins in southern Campeche, Mexico
Creation and rediscovery
Chicanná was erected at the base of the Yucatan Peninsula. Its builder took advantage of a slight natural elevation to counteract several groups of structures which served as rooms and enclosures for carrying out ritual ceremonies. Chicanná was discovered and named by Jack D. Eaton in 1966 during reconnaissance of the area prior to the formal start of the National Geographic/Tulane University archaeological study, centered at Becán. The site was given its name at the time of its discovery and no doubt refers to the facade of Structure II: chi, mouth - can, serpent - and na house; translated this way it alludes to the House of the Serpent Mouth.
Chicanná and its near neighbor, Becán
Both cities were built by the Maya during the same time period, roughly A.D. 600 to 830. However, the architecture at the two sites is quite distinct. Due to its dimensions and the rich decoration of the buildings, Chicanná has been considered a small elitist center of Becan, that is, like a residential zone of the rulers of the ancient regional capital.
Trade and occupation
Chicanná had important commercial connections with other settlements as attested to by the presence of non-local materials found at the site, which include objects from the Guatemala highlands and Honduras. Most likely many of these products were brought to Becán and then distributed. Evidence of occupation dates from the Late Preclassic period (300 BC to 250 AD). The last stages of the activity at Chicanná have been dated to the Early Postclassic (1100 AD).
Rio Bec region
Chicanná is one of 45 sites located in the Rio Bec region. This category refers to the shape and decoration of the buildings, which together constitute the architectural style. Consequently, it is common to find the presence of elongated buildings flanked by slender towers with rounded corners, as well as the enormous representation of Itzamna, principal god of the Maya pantheon, also known as the East Monster, on the facade of the lower construction.