Photo courtesy of Jeff Purcell
"Structure II closes the entire side of the plaza but is somehow less impressive than Str. I because it slopes back toward the top.
It probably had neither the monumentality of the great stairway at Structure IV nor the unapproachability of Structure I.
The shape of Str. II suggests that it generally resembled the main temple at Edzna and offers fascinating possibilities, but excavation is needed before this comparison can be confirmed."
Potter, David F. Maya Architecture of the Central Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. Middle American Research Institute, Tulane University. New Orleans 1977.
Note the decorative cross and checkerboard panels on the remains of the front wall of Structure III. These patterns are typical, not only of Becán, but of the Río Bec region in general.
Looking west across the plaza to structure II, which is partially obscured by trees.
About one quarter of the way from the right edge of the photo are the remains of a stairway running up through this building. From this vantage point, it looks like a vertical shaft.
Typical decorative motifs from Structure II include panels of checkerboard design bordered by stepped elements, as well as the characteristic recessed cross motif.
In contrast with platforms, which occupy nearly a whole room, benches fill only one end of a room in a shape that we would associated with a sleeping platform.
Potter observes that niches associated with benches at Becán tend to be formally conceived and centered above the bench. Wall niches rarely occur in the seemingly more important rooms.
Potter, David F. Maya Architecture of the Central Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. Middle American Research Institute, Tulane University. New Orleans 1977, p.42
A room in structure II showing both a platform (foreground) and a bench (to the left).
A niche in a back room of structure II, with burnt offerings of wild honeycomb and copal incense.
These ancient buildings are still sacred to the Maya.
An opening to an interior passage in Structure II. These have been called "windows" or "ventilators" because they bring light and air to interior parts of the building.
Characteristic interior masonry from Structure II. All interior walls were probably thickly plastered.
This photo shows the construction of the Mayan or false arch, which did not have a keystone but employed a flat, non-weight bearing capstone to join the two sides of the arch.
Looking west toward structure II: In the forground is a low circular structure which is believed to date from late Post-Classic times and may have been an altar.
Photo courtesy of Jeff Purcell
"Structure III, a low linear mound at the east side of the plaza, was so designated by the Carnegie Institution expedition.
It is a featureless mound, probably a low structure with a series of rooms opening onto the plaza. Nothing is known about its decoration, and least of all, its roof comb, if any; but in terms of mass, it is certainly the weakest structure of the four that enclose the plaza.
Its very weakness, however, and the relatively wide spaces between it and the adjacent structures may have provided aesthetic relief from the massiveness and tight spacing of the other three structures. It is interestiing but perhaps futile to consider whether this was deliberate on the part of the Maya architects.
Did they in fact value this kind of visual variety, or did social collapse simply catch up with them before they got around to building the next and larger structure in place of what we now know at Str. III? Given the impressive results of some of their plaza spaces, it seems reasonable to think this subtlety was deliberate."
Potter, David F. Maya Architecture of the Central Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. Middle American Research Institute, Tulane University. New Orleans 1977, p. 8
Apparently a lot of reconstructive work has been done on Structure III since Potter visited sometime before 1977.
Structure IV, with its grand central staircase, is on the left.
Structure II is in front, obscured by trees but with staircases plainly visible.
Structure X can be seen in the background.
Looking down on the plaza from structure III. To the left (south) is the massive structure I, which turns its back on the plaza and has door openings only on the side away from the plaza.
Southeast Plaza panarama: To the left (south) is structure I, in front (west) is structure II. In the foreground is a platform and outer wall from a room in Structure III.
The rough areas between the rounded corners of Structure I and going from ground level upward to the top are thought to once have been non-functional Rio-Bec type false stairways.
"Rooms at Str. I are all at the south side away from the plaza, arranged in an upper and lower double rows.
The upper group of ten rooms is clearly visible above the debris and is notable in that its outer row has wide openings to the exterior with intermediate rectangular piers, a style of opening not seen elsewhere at Becan or Chicanna.
The inner rooms were probably entered through more typical single doorways."
Potter, David F. Maya Architecture of the Central Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. Middle American Research Institute, Tulane University. New Orleans 1977, p. 46
Ruppert, Karl & John H. Denison, Jr. Archaeological Reconnaissance in Campeche, Quintana Roo, & Peten. Publication 543. Washington D.C. Carnegie Institution of Washington. 1943: fig. 67a
Ruppert wrote in 1943: "Structure I, on the south side of the quadrangle, consists of two levels of two parallel ranges of chambers, the second level rising above and north of the roof of the first, plus a solid masonry mass carrying two masonry towers which rise behind the second level (fig. 67).
In front (south) of the lower range of chambers is a large platform approximately 1 m. high. At the eastern end of a definite offset in the south line of the platform are four small piles of unworked, weathered stones.
Behind (north of) the upper level of rooms and resting on the east terrace is a great mass of apparently sold masonry.
Rising from either end of this is a tower. Since the towers were probably similar, and the one to the west is the better preserved, it alone will be described.
Much of its facing has fallen; however, remaining sections show it to have risen in four zones with rounded corners composed of small brick-like blocks. Each zone carries a plain moulding at the base and top.
An examination of the top of the towers showed four rows of four depressions each. As they are all shallow and filled with vegetation little may be said as to their purpose. It is possible that the depressions are from the collapse of material above large vertical shafts, which were built in the towers to reduce the amount of fill material and consequently decrease the weight of the masonry mass."
Ruppert, Karl & John H. Denison, Jr. Archaeological Reconnaissance in Campeche, Quintana Roo, & Peten. Publication 543. Washington D.C. Carnegie Institution of Washington. 1943, p. 56
Ruppert, Karl & John H. Denison, Jr. Archaeological Reconnaissance in Campeche, Quintana Roo, & Peten. Publication 543. Washington D.C. Carnegie Institution of Washington. 1943: fig. 67b & c
Chris Jones, writing about twin-pyramid groups in Tikal, makes a very interesting observation. He writes:
"The pattern of the twin-pyramid group might have one incomplete and misunderstood imitation. The Rio Bec area of Southern Campeche and Quintana Roo, Mexico, is best known for the site of Xpuhil, in which steep towers imitate Tikal-like temples.
Not far from Xpuhil is the site of Becan. Structure 1 in Becan, as illustrated by Ruppert and Dennison, seems to imitate the twin-pyramids of Tikal's twin-pyramid group.
Two identical towers stand on the east and west ends of a single raised platform. Each tower has radial symmetry. Four pits, apparently too large to be postholes, mar the tops of the structures, but otherwise the tops are flat and broad.
The central parts of the tower sides appear to be imitation stairways seen in the other Rio Bec towers although steps are not mentioned by Ruppert and Dennison. No other twin-pyramid group elements are found in the group.
In fact, except for the odd shapes of the towers, Becan Structure 1 is typical of the palace-with-towers of the area. The towers imitate something akin to a twin-pyramid group instead of a temple."
Christopher Jones, The Twin-Pyramid Group Pattern: A Classic Maya Architectural Assemblage at Tikal, Guatemala
Two views of an interior stairway in Structure I. The photo on the left shows the stair as it descends from the plaza to the lower level.
The photo on the right is from the lower level, looking up the same stairwell before it bends to the left in its ascent to the plaza level.