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Fodor's See It Mexico, 3rd Edition
Kohunlich (pronounced ko-hoon-lich) is renowned for the giant stucco masks on its principal pyramid, the Edificio de los Mascarones (Mask Building). It also has one of Quintana Roo's oldest ball courts and the remains of a great drainage system at the Plaza de las Estelas (Plaza of the Stelae). Masks that are about 6 feet tall are set vertically into the wide staircases at the main pyramid, called Edificio de las Estelas (Building of the Stelae). First thought to represent the Mayan sun god, they're now considered to be composites of the rulers and important warriors of Kohunlich. Another giant mask was discovered in 2001 in the building's upper staircase.
Kohunlich was built and occupied during the classic period by various Mayan groups. This explains the eclectic architecture, which includes the Petén and Río Bec styles. Although there are 14 buildings to visit, it's thought that there are at least 500 mounds on the site waiting to be excavated. Digs have turned up 29 individual and multiple burial sites inside a residence building called Temple de Los Viente-Siete Escalones (Temple of the Twenty-Seven Steps). This site doesn't have a great deal of tourist traffic, so it's surrounded by thriving flora and fauna.
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