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The Maya Puuc Region and Architectural Style


The Quadrangle of the Nunnery at Uxmal in the Yucatan peninsula, an example of Puuc architecture.

The Quadrangle of the Nunnery at Uxmal in the Yucatan peninsula, and an example of Puuc architectural style.

photo credit: Arianna Campiani

The term Puuc (pronounced "Pook"), which in Maya means “hill” or “mountain range” indicates both a Maya region in northeast and southwest Yucatan as well as an architectural style that characterized a series of Maya sites during the Late and Terminal Classic of ~AD 600-1000.

The Puuc as a geographic region is characterized by a steep topography and a dramatic lack of water, even though it does have a good amount of fertile lands. This region saw one of the most important florescence of Maya architecture.

Puuc Architectural Style

The Puuc style originated in this region and then spread across a wide area of the Yucatán Peninsula during the Late and Terminal Classic. Typical of this style are elaborated stone-mosaics that decorated the building facades with geometric motifs, along with the presence of stone masks, usually representing the Maya rain god Chac located at the external corners of the structures. Inward and outward friezes and mouldings were also used to create light effects.

Puuc Sites

The Maya sites that represent the best example of the Puuc architectural style are: Uxmal, Kabáh, Sayil, Labná, Oxkintok, Chacmultún, and Xlapac. These cities were usually connected among each other through sacbeob, (singular sacbe) causeways.


This glossary entry is a part of the About.com guide to Maya, and the Dictionary of Archaeology.

AA.VV. 2006, Los Mayas. Rutas Arqueologicas: Yucatan y Quintana Roo. Edición Especial de Arqueologia Mexicana, num. 21 (www.arqueomex.com)


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