The building is formally catalogued in archaeological surveys as Chichen Itza Structure 4D1; alternative spellings include Akab Tzib and Akabdzib. In modern Maya orthography, the building's given name renders as Akab' Tz'ib' or Akab' Tz'iib'.
"Akab Dzib" means, in Mayan, "The House of Mysterious Writing". An earlier name of the building, according to a translation of glyphs in the Casa Colorada, is Wa(k)wak Puh Ak Na, "the flat house with the excessive number of chambers” and it was the home of the administrator of Chichén Itzá, kokom Yahawal Cho' K’ak’.
The INAH completed a restoration of the building in 2007. It is relatively short, only 6 m (20 ft) high, and is 50 m (160 ft) in length and 15 m (49 ft) wide. The long, western-facing facade has seven doorways. The eastern facade has only four doorways, broken by a large staircase that leads to the roof. This apparently was the front of the structure, and looks out over what is today a steep, but dry, cenote. The southern end of the building has one entrance. The door opens into a small chamber and on the opposite wall is another doorway, above which on the lintel are intricately carved glyphs—the “mysterious” or “obscure” writing that gives the building its name today. Under the lintel in the doorjamb is another carved panel of a seated figure surrounded by more glyphs. Inside one of the chambers, near the ceiling, is a painted hand print.
- Voss and Kremer (2000)
- Thompson, J. Eric S. (1994). Maya Archaeologist. Foreword by Norman Hammond (Reprinted, original © 1963 by University of Oklahoma Press ed.). Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 0-8061-1206-9. OCLC 30074945.
- Voss, Alexander W.; and H. Juergen Kremer (2000). "K'ak'-u-pakal, Hun-pik-tok' and the Kokom: The Political Organization of Chichén Itzá" (PDF online reproduction). In Pierre Robert Colas (ed.). The Sacred and the Profane: Architecture and Identity in the Maya Lowlands; Proceedings of the 3rd European Maya Conference, University of Hamburg, November 1998. Acta Mesoamericana, no. 10. Markt Schwaben, Germany: Verlag Anton Saurwein. ISBN 3-931419-04-5. OCLC 47871840.