Archaeology Monday: Kohunlich

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Archaeology Monday: Kohunlich

Located in the state of Quintana Roo about 65 km west of the capital city of Chetumal, Kohunlich a large archaeological site first inhabited in the second century BC but which saw most of its monumental construction from the third to fifth centuries AD. One of the first things one notices upon approaching the ancient city is the thick vegetation and abundance of exotic looking palms known as "Cohune Palms" which dominate much of the landscape. Oddly enough the name Kohunlich is not actually Mayan, but rather a variation on the same it was originally given by inhabitants of the area which was “Cohun Ridge”. The original name of the city remains unknown.

The city features several large plazas, each complete with several pyramidal structures and ceremonial platforms and ballcourts. Given the lack of easily accessible fresh surface water, the urban design of the city also features an efficient system of water recollection and storage which utilized several cisterns which are fairly common in large settlements of the region However the most famous feature of the site is without a doubt the "Temple of Masks" dedicated to the sun god. Although it seems that apparently the facade of this large structure feature 8 large sun god masks along its central staircase, only five survive to this day. Fortunately the remaining stucco masks depicting K╩╝inich Ajaw (the aforementioned solar deity) are in remarkably good condition with traces of original paint still being clearly visible.

Kohunlich is also a great place for birdwatching, particularly early in the morning. Several interesting birds an be seen such as hawks, harons and woodpeckers. Howler monkeys and spider monkeys are often also seen in the site, though in my subjective experience I have had less luck with them here than in other sites in the region such as Dzibanche

Kohunlich is only one of the many amazing sites such as Chicanna, Becan, Xpujil, Dzibanche.and many more which we will be visiting on our Southern Campeche & Quintana Roo Archaeology & Wild-Life Experience (Feb 20th to the 25th, 2020). Space is till available but it is filling up fast! For more information email Carlos at

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