• INAH - CINAH Campeche / Archivo
    INAH - CINAH Campeche / Archivo
  • INAH - CINAH Campeche / Archivo
    INAH - CINAH Campeche / Archivo
  • INAH - CINAH Campeche / Archivo
    INAH - CINAH Campeche / Archivo
  • INAH - CINAH Campeche / Archivo
    INAH - CINAH Campeche / Archivo
Chicanná
In the house of the serpent’s mouth
The masks of Itzamná, the god of the sun and wisdom represented by a face with enormous open jaws and bejewelled ears, appear especially grandiose, in this small ancient city where the ruling class once lived, situated on the route between the Gulf of Mexico and the coast of Quintana Roo.
About the site

The pre-Hispanic settlement of Chicanná is small in scale and the constructions in its central area are distributed in small groups. The water supply for its former inhabitants might have been obtained from the nearby springs, or through the use of specially made rainwater collection chambers called “chultunes”. The ridges and terraces on the local hills reveal a specialized form of intensive agriculture. 

Human occupation at the site in question can be traced back to the Middle Preclassic (before 200 BC) and the Late Preclassic (150 BC – c. 250 AD) periods, and continued until around 1100 AD. It flourished in the Late Classic (550-700 AD) and Early Postclassic (700-1100/1200 AD), although there are some traces of residual habitation belonging to the Late Postclassic (after the year 1200).

In the Yucatecan Mayan language, Chicanná means “the house of the serpent’s mouth," referring to the snake-like decorative features on some of the buildings. A few of the main structures stand out for the profusion of their ornamentation, with zoomorphic facades representing Itzamná with open jaws, as found in Buildings II and XX. Meanwhile, stucco masks in profile flank the main entrances of structures such as Buildings X and VI. Another distinctive feature are the towers on each side of a low, elongated building, as in the case of Building 1, which is a hallmark of the Río Bec region’s architecture and pottery. It is important to bear in mind that various buildings on the site are the result of more than one phase of construction.

Pottery found in Chicanná dating from the Middle and Late Preclassic periods provide relatively meager evidence of its occupation at that time. However, by the Early Classic, building activity clearly gathered momentum as seen in the stucco floors on Plaza A and the Structures IIIsub-2 and XISub, associated with the ceramics of the Sabucan complex (450-500 AD).

It was not until the beginning of the Late Classic that Building IIIsub-1 at the center of the settlement, the central part of Building I (without its towers), Structure VI, as well as Buildings VII, X and XI were all erected. Towers were added to Building I toward the end of the Late Classic, and Structure II was built, as well as the west annex of Structure VI and the first level of Structure XX. The building work did not stop in the Late Postclassic, because this is when Structures III and IIIA were built, as well as the east annex of Structure VI and the upper level of Structure XX.

The archeological site of Chicanná is located in the south of the state of Campeche, at kilometer 143 of the federal highway that runs between Escárcega and Chetumal. It was discovered by Jack D. Eaton during the early explorations for the Southeast Campeche project led by Tulane University’s Edward Wyllys Andrews IV, under the auspices of the National Geographic Society, from 1969 to 1971. He also excavated and consolidated large sections of Buildings II and XI.

Research and restoration in the area increased beginning in the 1980s. However, in each case the buildings were only partially excavated. During this period Román Piña Chan and his team focused on Structures I and XX, Ramón Carrasco Vargas on Buildings III, VI, XX and the annex of Building XVII, and Ricardo Bueno Cano cleared and consolidated Structures X, XI and the rear façade of Structure II during the 1992 and 1993 seasons.

Recently, between 2011 and 2015, INAH’s regional office in Campeche carried out work in Chicanná as part of its program of small and large-scale projects at archeological sites open to the public, under the supervision of Vicente Suárez Aguilar. About a dozen pre-Hispanic buildings benefitted through a three-pronged approach: architectural maintenance and conservation to repair damage from human and natural causes; additional work to clear and restore buildings already partially explored some years ago; and, finally, a comprehensive excavation of buildings that complement the building sequence and contribute additional information about human habitation of the site (chronology, cultural relations, and so on).

200 a.C - 1100

Preclásico Medio a Clásico Tardío
500 - 700

Clásico Tardío

Did you know...
  • Chicanná is believed to have been a center for the rulers of the Río Bec region during the Classic period.
  • The site’s pre-Hispanic center consists of five monumental building complexes; construction work on them began at the dawn of the Common Era.
  • The most prominent pre-Hispanic structures are richly decorated, with stucco masks on their main façades, reflecting the ideological complexity of the ruling elite.
An exert point of view
The well-established elite were commercially active in a number of regions.
Vicente Maximiliano Suárez Aguilar
Vicente Maximiliano Suárez Aguilar
Centro INAH Campeche
Archeological site
Chicanná
Practical information
Temporarily closed
Monday to Sunday from 8:00 to 17:00 hrs

$55.00 pesos


  • Extra fee for video cameras
  • Sundays free for Mexican citizens
  • Free entrance for Mexicans under 13 years old
  • Free entrance for Mexican students and teachers
  • Free entrance for Mexican senior citizens
  • No Smoking
  • No entry with food
  • Pets not allowed
Se localiza al sureste del estado de Campeche, en el municipio de Calakmul.

Desde la ciudad de Campeche la distancia a Chicanná es de 293 km.

From the capital Campeche take Federal Highway 180 towards Champotón, then Federal Highway 186 that leads to Escárcega, and continue towards Chetumal. Chicanna is located at km 143, shortly before Becán.

Services
  • Centro de atención al visitante
  • Estacionamiento
  • Sanitarios
GUIDE
Guide
  • +52 (981) 816 8179
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • FACEBOOK
  • TWITTER
Directory
Encargada de Operación de Zonas Arqueológicas del Centro INAH Campeche
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
+52 (981) 816 9111, exts. 138016 y 138017
1662
234_A_000
234_A_chicanna_cinah_campeche_2
INAH - CINAH Campeche / Archivo
Chicanná
234_A_cinah_campeche_3
INAH - CINAH Campeche / Archivo
Chicanná
234_slider_chicann_408-0876_IMG
INAH - CINAH Campeche / Archivo
Chicanná
234_estructura_chicann_restos_de_estuco_con_evidencia_de_pintura_roja
INAH - CINAH Campeche / Archivo
Remains of stucco with traces of red paint
Sureste
Los mascarones de Itzamná, el dios del sol y la sabiduría representado con una cara inmensa de fauces abiertas y orejas enjoyadas, lucen especialmente grandiosos aquí, en esta antigua y pequeña ciudad que fue morada de élite, localizada en la ruta entre el Golfo de México y la costa de Quintana Roo.
The masks of Itzamná, the god of the sun and wisdom represented by a face with enormous open jaws and bejewelled ears, appear especially grandiose, in this small ancient city where the ruling class once lived, situated on the route between the Gulf of Mexico and the coast of Quintana Roo.
En la casa de la boca de la serpiente
In the house of the serpent’s mouth

LEGAL NOTICE

The contents of this website belong to the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia de México, and may be downloaded and shared without alterations, provided that the author is acknowledged and if is not for commercial purposes.

Footer MediatecaINAH

Guardar
Lugares INAH

Idioma