Stephens and Catherwood arrived at the ruins of Kabah on January 8, 1842. Although the site was familiar to some of the local Maya, this was one of the many cities that the two explorers discovered whose existence was unknown to the outside world. The core of Kabah covers an area of about one-half of a square mile and contains the remains of over 30 large stone structures. Their Indian guides showd Stephens and Catherwood only the largest of these, which lay nearest the road, but "of all the rest seemed as ignorant as ourselves," Stephens wrote.

  The facade of the Codz Pop (the name is Maya for "rolled mat" and refers to some similarly shaped stones used as stairs) is covered with over 250 stone mosaic masks believed by some to represent the Maya rain god. Such masks are common to the architecture of the area but are nowhere else used in such profusion. The 30 cut and carved stones in each mask were mass-produced by Maya artisans, enabling them to produce this type of richly detailed ornamentation in a relatively short time.