Becan means "ravine or canyon formed by water" in Maya, and refers to the moat that surrounds the city. Becan, however, is not an old or authentic place name, but was conferred on the site in 1934 by archaeologists of the Third Campeche Expedition sponsored by the Division of Historical Research of the Carnegie Institution of Washington D.C. This expedition reached the site on February 20, 1934 to investigate reports received the previous month.
The map portrayed on this sign is based on a drawing by David F. Potter which attempts to reconstruct Becan as it appeared at the peak of its development around A.D. 800, shortly after the cessation of major construction. Most of the buildings shown were then in use, but the dry moat, built centuries earlier, was probably no longer maintained for its original defensive purposes.