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An interesting feature of this once-important city is its defensive moat—unusual among ancient Mayan cities—though barely evident today. The seven ruined gateways, which once permitted the only entrances to the guarded city, may have clued archaeologists to its presence. Becán (usually translated as "canyon of water," referring to the moat) is thought to have been an important city within the Río Bec group, which once encompassed Xpujil, Chicanná, and Río Bec. Most of the site's many buildings date from between about AD 600 and 1000, but since there are no traditionally inscribed stelae listing details of royal births, deaths, battles, and ascendancies to the throne, archaeologists have had to do a lot of guessing about what transpired here.
You can climb several of the structures to get a view of the area, and even spot some of Xpuhil's towers above the treetops. Duck into Estructura VIII, where underground passages lead to small subterranean rooms and to a concealed staircase that reaches the top of the temple. One of several buildings surrounding a central plaza, Estructura VIII has lateral towers and a giant zoomorphic mask on its central facade. The building was used for religious rituals, including bloodletting rites during which the elite pierced earlobes and genitals, among other sensitive body parts, in order to present their blood to the gods.
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