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Kohunlich Costa Maya, Mexico

Although this ancient Mayan city is not well-known, Kohunlich is a large, primarily unexcavated archaeological site 80 miles (129 kilometers) south of Cancun in the beautiful Costa Maya region, and is surrounded by thick rainforests containing exotic birds and wildlife. Unlike other Mayan sites, the word Kohunlich comes from the English word Cohune Ridge, named for the cohune palm tree that is common here.

Most of the structures at Kohunlich are hidden by rainforest overgrowth and have not yet been restored. Only a small portion of this city has been restored, but the site contains many fascinating structures including a large acropolis, palace, and ball court. The most impressive structure is the pyramid of masks called the Templo del Sol (Temple of the Sun) which features six, five-foot tall, stucco masks of the Mayan sun god, Kinich Ahau, along its staircase.

This archaeological site dates back to 200 BC, but the most significant structures were built in the Early Classic period between 250 BC and 600 BC, reaching the height of its population between 300 AD and 1200 AD. Archaeologists believe this city once served as a regional center and stopover post on trade routes, considering the city’s design and large central plaza.


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