Kohunlich & Dzibanche / by Tim Gerdes

On a recent trip to Mexico, I had the opportunity to tour the ruins of two Mayan cities, Kohunlich and Dzibanche. It is believed that Dzibanche was the first capital of the Kan dynasty, sometime during the fifth or sixth century. Explorer Thomas Gann gave the city its modern name from the Mayan word for written on wood, in reference to carved wooden lintels discovered at the site.

Kohunlich takes its Spanish name from the English phrase meaning Cohune Ridge, in a reference to cohune palm trees. In modern Mayan the site is known as X-làabch'e'en. The ruins sit on a 21-acre site in the middle of a sub-tropical rainforest, and is most famous for its Temple of the Masks. Dating to 500 A.D., the temple’s staircase is flanked by large stucco masks representing sun god, Kinich Ahau.