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Edzná, site in northern Campeche, Mexico, first known for its complex Late Classic Maya architecture. Investigations at the site center and in the surrounding area by Mexican and American archaeologists have demonstrated that Edzná was a large urban center occupying an area of perhaps 6.8 square miles during some time periods. The first known occupation occurred during the Middle Preclassic period (ca. 400–300 bce), when the site apparently was sparsely occupied, followed by a surge of development and population during the Late Preclassic period.

Edzná functioned as a major center from about 150 b.c. to a.d. 200, possibly the period of its greatest extent and population. An ancient, complex hydraulic system was constructed during that time. Thirty-one canals and twenty-five reservoirs made possible collection of rainwater and had a storage potential of more than 71 million cubic feet. They may have provided the Preclassic and later Classic city with water reserves for the dry season because there is little or no surface water available in the area. Edzná was occupied, at a lesser level, during the Protoclassic and Early Classic periods, until a second population and development surge in Late Classic times. Its final period of occupation, during the Terminal Classic period, ended by approximately 900.

In the 1980s investigations by Antonio Benavides Castillo, under the auspices of Mexico's Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, focused on the site center. Excavations revealed new information about the Large Acropolis and the Small Acropolis. Of particular interest is a large modeled stucco mask associated with a structure buried inside a later building on the Small Acropolis. Its style and associated artifacts date the mask to the Protoclassic period or earlier. In a brief discussion of the known carved stelae from Edzná, Benavides Castillo notes that two date to Baktun (between ce 41 and 435).

See alsoArchaeology; Maya, the.


Ray T. Matheny, Deanne L. Gurr, Donald W. Forsyth, and F. Richard Hauck, Investigations at Edzná, Campeche, Mexico, vol. 1, pt. 1, The Hydraulic System, and pt. 2, Maps (1983).

George F. Andrews, Edzná, Campeche, Mexico: Settlement Patterns and Monumental Architecture (1984).

Antonio Benavides Castillo, "Edzná, Campeche, Mexico: Temporade de campo 1989," in Mexicon 12, no. 3 (May 1990): 49-52.

Additional Bibliography

Benavides Castillo, Antonio. Edzná: A Pre-Columbian City in Campeche/Edzná: Una ciudad prehispánica de Campeche. México, D.F.: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia; Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh, 1997.

Forsyth, Donald W., Deanne L. Gurr; F. R. Hauck, and Ray T. Matheny. Investigations at Edzná, Campeche, Mexico. vol. 2, Ceramics. Provo: New World Archaeological Foundation, Brigham Young University, 1983.

Mayer, Karl Herbert. The Hieroglyphic Stairway 1 at Edzna, Campeche, Mexico. Graz: Academic Publishers, 2004.

Suárez Aguilar, Vicente, coord. Exploraciones arqueológicas en Edzná, Campeche. Campeche: Universidad Autónoma de Campeche, 2001.

                                          Ray T. Matheny