The small Mayan ruin of Hochob is an excellent example of the Chenes architectural style, which flowered from about AD 100 to 1000. Most ruins in this area (central and southeastern Campeche) were built on the highest possible elevation to prevent flooding during the rainy season, and Hochob is no exception. It rests high on a hill overlooking the surrounding valleys. Another indication that these are Chenes ruins is the number of chultunes, or cisterns, in the area.
Since work began at Hochob in the early 1980s, four temples and palaces have been excavated at the site, including two that have been fully restored. Intricate and perfectly preserved geometric designs cover the temple known as Estructura II, which are typical of the Chenes style.
The doorway represents the open mouth of Itzámná, the creator god, and above it the eyes bulge and fangs are bared on either side of the base. It takes a bit of imagination to see the structure as a mask, as color no doubt originally enhanced the effect. Squinting helps a bit: the figure's "eyes" are said to be squinting as well. But anyone can appreciate the intense geometric relief carvings decorating the facades, including long cascades of Chaac rain-god masks along the sides. Evidence of roof combs can be seen at the top of the building. Ask the guard to show you the series of natural and man-made chultunes that extend back into the forest.
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