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Chicanná means "Serpent-mouth House" in Maya.

Chicanná was discovered and named by Jack D. Eaton in 1966 during reconnaissance of the area prior to the formal start of the National Geographic/Tulane University archaeological study centered at Becán. The ancient name of the site is not known. Chicanná and its near neighbor, Becán, were built during the same time period (roughly A.D. 600 to 830). However, the architecture at the two sites is quite distinct.

While Becán is characterized by monumental structures grouped around grand plazas, Chicanná exhibits small scale elegance and loosely scattered structures built on low platforms. There is more intact architecture and specifically more intact architectural sculpture at Chicanná than there is at Becán. Despite the difference in the scale of architecture at the two sites, the sculpture at Chicanná can give us a clearer picture of how the sculptural facades at Becán might have looked when they were intact.

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