Becán Mayan ruins in southern Campeche, Mexico
Partial text and site map photoed on-site, provided by INAH Insituto National de Atropologia e Historia.
Name and discovery
Becán was "discovered" by archaeologists Karl Ruppert and John Denison in 1934. The name, which means trench, was given to Becán by Ruppert and Denison who named it after the conspicuous system of moats that surrounds significant portions of the site. The ancient Maya name is not known. From 1969 to 1971 archaeological excavations were made at Becán sponsored by Tulane University and the National Geographic Society.
Our first visit
When we first visited the ruins in 1992 we noticed white pyramids peering above the jungle. No one was there to even take our entry fee. Today, there is a small pueblo and the ruins have a proper entry area, bathrooms, and parking. Presently, visitors can walk to 20 major constructions associated with the plazas and patios, distributed over three hectares. The primary section of Becán is ringed by a moat and there are remains of a wall, in some places almost 11 feet tall. The digging of ditches and construction of protective walls is very rare in the Maya civilization. This man-made ditch is slightly over 2 kilometers long and was excavated in the late pre-Classic between 100 and 250 A.D. This trench is one of the oldest known defensive systems in Mexico.
History and surroundings
Becán was the political, economical and religious capital of the province known today as Rio Bec to which the sites of Xpuhil, Chicanna, Puerto Roci, Okolhuitz, Channa and Ramonal belong. It is strategically located at the base of the Yucatan Pennisula on the route which unites the river and lagoon zone of southwestern Campeche, with the territories of Chetumal Bay. The sites in the Peten Region are found to the south of Becán. And to the north are the Chenes (wells) settlements in the northeastern Campeche, with whom Becán also had relations.
The earliest archaeological evidence from Becán dates from 550 B.C. period, a time when the Olmec culture was declining at sites such as La Venta in Tabasco. The Apogee at Becán, reflected in the construction peak and the population density, took place bewteen 600 and 800 A.D. Becán was abandoned around 1200 A.D.
Find Becán in Campeche
Becán is located just beyond the Quintana Roo-Campeche state line, 6 kilometers west of the town of Xphil. The turn to Becán is marked by a highway sign, and the archaeological zone is about 500 meters to the north of the highway. Because of Becán's significance to the Rio Bec area it is an important ruin to see when visiting the area. Becán is roughly 3.5 hours from Tulum, driving south on highway 307 then west on 186.