15 miles south of the important city of UXMAL, and connected by a sacbe (Maya road), sits Kabah. While almost certainly subordinate to its northern neighbor, Kabah was not a minor city it was an important location in its own right, and surprise today’s visitors with its own special ambiance.
The main structure here is the Palace of the Masks, an imposing building used for religious rituals and other state ceremonies. The people of Kabah grew crops, participated in the great Maya trade routes, and kept a wary eye to the north.
The relationship between smaller cities and larger ones could change dramatically with the ascension of the new ruler in either location. Its terrace extensive hieroglyphic texts behind an altar that may well have been used for human sacrifice.
The succession of a new ruler was a major event in the Maya world, and one can imagine that spies from many nearby city-states were among the throngs gathered to watch the rituals and pageantry that marked the beginning of a new reign.
Carved panels, doorjambs and lintels make this a breathtaking example of the incredibly advanced and complex Maya stone carving art.
A benevolent protector might be succeeded by a ruthless tyrant, eager to accrue greater glory by capturing slaves and increasing his dominance; a wiling subject-king might be succeeded by an ambitious rebel, eager to gain fame by freeing his city from the dominance of a powerful neighbor.