Ruínas de Acancéh
The official Acancéh ruins (8 a.m.–5 p.m. daily, US$2) consist of two main parts: a large pyramid and secondary temple right in the center of the town of Acancéh, and a second somewhat smaller structure called El Palacio de Estucos (Palace of the Stuccos) a few blocks away.
In reality, the majority of the remains of this ancient city are scattered throughout town; most are on private property—backyards, front yards, under houses, etc.—and it is either impossible or impractical to excavate them. Still archaeologists believe the area was settled as early as 300 B.C. but didn’t reach its peak until A.D. 400–600. Curiously, Acancéh’s structures show strong influences from Petén (northern Guatemala) as well as Teotihuacán in central Mexico, both quite distant.
Driving though town, the pyramid is impossible to miss, facing a large dirt lot (Acancéh’s central plaza actually). A small kiosk at the corner is where you buy your ticket, and a guide may accompany you up the pyramid (no fee, but a small tip would be considerate). At the top, under a protective tin roof, are a series of large stucco masks; unfortunately the actual faces are missing or significantly deteriorated. They surely depict important gods, but archaeologists have been unable to identify most of them.
If you’ve got a car, the guide will likely lead you to the Palacio de los Estucos on his bike. A large, complex palace, it shows a blending of architectural styles, including, for example, both curved and squared corners. On the uppermost level is a long frieze of impressive stucco designs (hence the structure’s name) in the shapes of birds, a ram, and man-jaguar, among others.
Your guide will also likely point out the lintel of a particular doorway on the top level, which is made of a deeply grooved metate, used for grinding corn. Too worn down for its original purpose, it was reused in the construction here. Not only resourceful, it lends a certain human touch to the structure.
© Gary Chandler & Liza Prado from Moon Yucatán Peninsula, 9th edition