Kohunlich is the name of a Mayan city and ceremonial center, located about 65 kilometers from Chetumal, Quintana Roo, in the Rio Bec region, very close to the border between Mexico and Belize. The Kohunlich site is relatively extensive, about 21 acres surrounded by tropical forest. The layout of the buildings and the remains of water pipes and cisterns suggests that Kohunlich was an important city at the time.

At this site there are about 200 mounds, although many of them are still unexcavated and still invaded by vegetation. The archaeological information available suggests that Kohunlich received its first inhabitants around 200 AD, although most of the most significant constructions were made between 250 and 600 AD.

It can also be assumed that Kohunlich represented a trade link between the cities of the Yucatan Peninsula and several Mayan cities in Central America. Building A-1 or Los Mascarones is one of the most visited because it has monumental stucco reliefs that still retain the red paint that covered the entire temple. It is probable that this building was built during the Early Classic period and is more closely related to the so-called Petén style.

The ancient name of the site is unknown. The word Kohunlich with which it is called is not of Mayan origin either, as it is the result of a phonetic transcription of its original name in English Cohoon Ridge, which means hill of corozos or corozal, elaborated by the archaeologist Víctor Segovia, who was the first to explore the region. The site has been known since 1912 when archaeologist Raymond Merwin visited pre-Hispanic settlements north of the Río Hondo.

The first occupation of Kohunlich is located in the late Preclassic (300 BC -250 AD), a stage in which low-rise platforms were built around the Plaza Ya’axná, buildings that in the Early Classic were covered by monumental buildings. During this period, the Temple of the Masks was erected, decorated with eight figures molded in stucco with polychrome, in red and black colors, on masonry frameworks, of which only five are preserved. Its iconography represents real characters, adorned with attributes related to the sun. During the late Classic (600-900 AD), Kohunlich reached its maximum population, a period in which most of the structures that can be seen today were built, such as the Plaza de las Estelas and the Conjunto de las Vías (civic complexes- ceremonials), the Northwest Ensemble, the late structures of the Pixa’an Ensemble, and the Los 27 Escalones Ensemble (both elite residential complexes).

The growth of the settlement continued until the early Postclassic (1000-1200 AD), when the Mayans deposited offerings of censers in the temples and prepared rooms and platforms around the main buildings or in the housing complexes.

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