Mayan Archaeology > Campeche > Campeche

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The Mayan city of the moat

In Mayan, its name means “Ravine formed by water”, probably due to the dry moat that surrounds the main architectural groups on the site. It was occupied during the late Preclassic and its peak occurred during the entire Classic period. Its decline occurred during the late Postclassic period.

Becán is academically classified by some researches as the regional capital of one of the most important architectural regions of the state of Campeche within the Río Bec region.

Its discovery dates back to 1934, when Karl Ruppert and John Denison reported it during their journey through a great part of the southern peninsula, registering pre-Columbian sites for the Carnegie institution of Washington.

Evidence of human occupation in Becán goes back to 600 B.C.; however, its golden age occurred between 600 and 1000 A.D., when the city took on the role of regional capital, due to its strategic location in the center of the Yucatán Peninsula.

There were seven entrances to the metropolis: three to the north, one to the west, two to the south and one to the east, the latter is the current entrance to the site. In the area surrounded by the moat, buildings of monumental architecture stand around plazas. In the East Plaza the impressive Structure I can be found, with its two solid lateral towers; Structure II in the western part and Structures III and IV, both with a central stairway.

The Central Plaza is open in two sections and is surrounded by Structures VIII and IX, which is the site’s most elevated construction (32m), and Structure X, where the stucco remains of a figurehead are kept. The Western Plaza is bordered on one side with a traditional Ball Court.

A great number of minor constructions are found outside the area surrounded by moat, which served as barns, sanctuaries, agricultural terraces, among other functions, for the people that supported the ruling dynasty of Becán.

Structure VIII has an interesting tunnel at its entrance, which connects two of the city’s main plazas.

The most important feature of the site is its moat, unique in the Mayan area, which some researchers see as proof of war between here and other cities in the region, or it could simply have been a territorial division between social classes, where the inner area was reserved for the elite, with its buildings of monumental architecture.

The Archaeological Zone of Becán is located in the Southest of the State of Campeche.

Monday through Sunday from 8:00 to 17:00
35 pesos
How to arrive

From the city of Campeche, take the highway towards the municipality of Champotón, from there take Federal Highway 186 Escárcega – Chetumal, the site is located at kilometer 145.


Map and address

Kilometer 145 Escárcega-Chetumal highway, in the state of Campeche.