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Encyclopedia > Chichen Itza
Pre-Hispanic City of Chichen-Itza*
UNESCO World Heritage Site

State Party Flag of Mexico Mexico
Type Cultural
Criteria i, ii, iii
Reference 483
Region Latin America and the Caribbean
Inscription History
Inscription 1988  (12th Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
† Region as classified by UNESCO.
map of central portion of Chichen Itza
map of central portion of Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza (IPA pronunciation: [tʃiˈtʃɛn itˈsɑ][1]) (from Yucatec Maya: chich'en itza', "At the mouth of the well of the Itza") is a large pre-Columbian archaeological site built by the Maya civilization located in the northern center of the Yucatán Peninsula, present-day Mexico. A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a specific site (such as a forest, mountain, lake, desert, monument, building, complex, or city) that has been nominated and confirmed for inclusion on the list maintained by the international World Heritage Programme administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, composed of 21 State... Image File history File links Metadata Size of this preview: 800 × 600 pixelsFull resolution (2592 × 1944 pixel, file size: 2. ... As of 2006, there are a total of 830 World Heritage Sites located in 138 State Parties. ... Image File history File links Flag_of_Mexico. ... A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a specific site (such as a forest, mountain, lake, desert, monument, building, complex, or city) that has been nominated and confirmed for inclusion on the list maintained by the international World Heritage Programme administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, composed of 21 State... This is a list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in North America, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. ... A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a specific site (such as a forest, mountain, lake, desert, monument, building, complex, or city) that has been nominated and confirmed for inclusion on the list maintained by the international World Heritage Programme administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, composed of 21 State... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Articles with similar titles include the NATO phonetic alphabet, which has also informally been called the “International Phonetic Alphabet”. For information on how to read IPA transcriptions of English words, see IPA chart for English. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... The Maya are people of southern Mexico and northern Central America (Guatemala, Belize, western Honduras, and El Salvador) with some 3,000 years of history. ... The pre-Columbian era incorporates all period subdivisions in the history and prehistory of the Americas before the appearance of significant European influences on the Americas continent. ... An archaeological site is a place (or group of physical sites) in which evidence of past activity is preserved (either prehistoric or historic or contemporary), and which has been investigated using the discipline of archaeology. ... This article is about the pre-Columbian Maya civilization. ... The Yucatán peninsula as seen from space The Yucatán Peninsula, in Southeastern Mexico, separates the Caribbean Sea from the Gulf of Mexico. ...


Chichen Itza was a major regional center in the northern Maya lowlands from the Late Classic through the Terminal Classic and into the early portion of the Early Postclassic period. The site exhibits a multitude of architectural styles, from what is called “Mexicanized” and reminiscent of styles seen in central Mexico to the Puuc style found among the Puuc Maya of the northern lowlands. The presence of central Mexican styles was once thought to have been representative of direct migration or even conquest from central Mexico, but most contemporary interpretations view the presence of these non-Maya styles more as the result of cultural diffusion. Mesoamerican chronology The chronology of Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica is usually divided into the following eras: Paleo-Indian Period c. ... Mesoamerican chronology The chronology of Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica is usually divided into the following eras: Paleo-Indian Period c. ... Mesoamerican chronology The chronology of Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica is usually divided into the following eras: Paleo-Indian Period c. ... General boundaries of the Puuc region. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Diffusionism. ...


Archaeological data, such as evidence of burning at a number of important structures and architectural complexes, suggest that Chichen Itza's collapse was violent. Following the decline of Chichen Itza's hegemony, regional power in the Yucatán shifted to a new center at Mayapan. Hegemony (pronounced or ) (Greek: ) is the dominance of one group over other groups, with or without the threat of force, to the extent that, for instance, the dominant party can dictate the terms of trade to its advantage; more broadly, cultural perspectives become skewed to favor the dominant group. ... Location within Mexico Country Capital Municipalities 106 Government  - Governor Ivonne Ortega Pacheco PRI  - Federal Deputies PAN: 4 PRI: 1  - Federal Senators Hugo Laviada (PAN) Alfredo Rodríguez (PAN) Cleominio Zoreda (PRI) Area Ranked 20th  - State 38,402 km²  (14,827. ... Mayapan (in Spanish Mayapán) is a Pre-Columbian Maya site in the state of Yucatán, Mexico, about 40 km south-east of Mérida and 100 km west of Chichen Itza. ...


The ruins of Chichen Itza are federal property, and the site’s stewardship is maintained by Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, INAH). The land under the monuments, however, is privately-owned by the Barbachano family.[2] The Mexican Institute Nacional de Antropología e Historia (National Institute of Anthropology and History known as INAH for its Spanish abbreviation) is the federal government bureau established in 1939 to guarantee the research, preservation, protection, and promotion of the prehistoric, archaeological, anthropological, historical, and paleontological heritage of Mexico. ...

Contents

Name and orthography

Feathered Serpent, bottom of "El Castillo" staircase
Feathered Serpent, bottom of "El Castillo" staircase

The Maya name "Chich'en Itza" means "At the mouth of the well of the Itza." This derives from chi, meaning "mouth" or "edge", and ch'en, meaning "well." Itzá is the name of an ethnic-lineage group that gained political and economic dominance of the northern peninsula. The name is believed to derive from the Maya itz, meaning "magic," and (h)á, meaning "water." Itzá in Spanish is often translated as "Brujas del Agua (Witches of Water)" but a more precise translation would be Magicians of Water. larger image of my photo of the serpent head at the bottom of the column on the temple of kukulcan taken may 1997 File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... larger image of my photo of the serpent head at the bottom of the column on the temple of kukulcan taken may 1997 File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Templo de los Guerreros (Temple of the Warriors) at Chichen Itza. ...


The name is often represented as Chichén Itzá in Spanish and when translated into other languages from Spanish to show that both parts of the name are stressed on their final syllables. Other references prefer to employ a more rigorous orthography in which the word is written according to Maya language, using Chich'en Itzá. This form preserves the phonemeic distinction between [ ch' ] and [ ch ], since the base word ch'en (which, however, does have a neutral tone vowel "e" in Maya and is not accented or stressed in Maya) begins with a glottalized affricate ( in IPA notation, [tʃʼ]) ([tʃ])and not a voiceless (non-glottalized) one. The word "Itzá'" has a high rise final "a" that is followed by a glottal stop (indicated by the apostrophe).

There is evidence in the Books of the Chilam Balams that there was another, earlier name for this city prior to the arrival of the Itza hegemony in northern Yucatan. This name is difficult to define because of the absence of a single standard of orthography, but it is represented variously as Uuc Yabnal, Uuc Habnal, Uuc Hab Nal, or Uc Abnal. While most sources agree the first word means seven, there is considerable debate as to the correct translation of the rest. Among the translations suggested are “Seven Bushes,” “Seven Year Corn,” “Seven Stone Corn,” “Seven Lots of Corn,” or “Seven Caves.” [3] The orthography of a language specifies the correct way of using a specific writing system to write the language. ... Maya language may refer to: generally, any one of the various Mayan languages, a related group of languages spoken by the Maya peoples of Mesoamerica specifically, Yukatek (Yucatec) Maya language is frequently referred to simply as Maya language Maya language (Brazil), an unclassified language of Brazil that may be related... In human language, a phoneme is the theoretical representation of a sound. ... The postalveolar ejective affricate is a type of consonantal sound, used in some spoken languages. ... Articles with similar titles include the NATO phonetic alphabet, which has also informally been called the “International Phonetic Alphabet”. For information on how to read IPA transcriptions of English words, see IPA chart for English. ... The voiceless palato-alveolar affricate or domed postalveolar affricate is a type of consonantal sound used in some spoken languages. ...




History of Chich'en Itza

Columns in the Temple of a Thousand Warriors
Columns in the Temple of a Thousand Warriors

Northern Yucatán is arid, and the interior has no above-ground rivers. There are two large, natural sink holes, called cenotes, that could have provided plentiful water year round at Chichen, making it attractive for settlement. Of the two cenotes, the "Cenote Sagrado" or Sacred Cenote, is the more famous. According to post-Conquest sources (Maya and Spanish), pre-Columbian Maya sacrificed objects and human beings into the cenote as a form of worship to the Maya rain god Chaac. American Consul Edward Herbert Thompson dredged the Sacred Cenote from 1904 to 1910, and recovered artifacts of gold, jade, pottery, and incense, as well as human remains. [4] A recent study of human remains taken from the Cenote Sagrado found that they had wounds consistent with human sacrifice.[5] Image File history File links Metadata Size of this preview: 800 × 547 pixelsFull resolution (2511 × 1717 pixel, file size: 2. ... Image File history File links Metadata Size of this preview: 800 × 547 pixelsFull resolution (2511 × 1717 pixel, file size: 2. ... Sacred Cenote, Chichén Itzá Cenote in Quintana Roo, Mexico Cenote (pronounced in Spanish seh-no-teh and in English say-no-tay, plural: cenotes) is the name given in Central America and southern Mexico to a type of freshwater-filled limestone sinkhole. ... Chaac (also rendered as Chaak or Chac) is the originally Yucatec name of the Maya rain deity. ... Edward Herbert Thompson (28 September 1856 - 11 May 1935) was a United States born archaeologist and diplomat. ... Sacred Cenote, Chichén Itzá Cenote in Quintana Roo, Mexico Cenote (pronounced in Spanish seh-no-teh and in English say-no-tay, plural: cenotes) is the name given in Central America and southern Mexico to a type of freshwater-filled limestone sinkhole. ... GOLD refers to one of the following: GOLD (IEEE) is an IEEE program designed to garner more student members at the university level (Graduates of the Last Decade). ... A selection of antique, hand-crafted Chinese jade (jadeite) buttons Unworked Jade Jade is used as an ornamental stone, the term jade is applied to two different rocks that are made up of different silicate minerals. ... Unfired green ware pottery on a traditional drying rack at Conner Prairie living history museum. ... Incense is composed of aromatic organic materials. ...

Kukulcan's Jaguar Throne, interior temple of "El Castillo"
Kukulcan's Jaguar Throne, interior temple of "El Castillo"

I took this pic of the jaguar throne in May 1997 inside the El Castillo. ... I took this pic of the jaguar throne in May 1997 inside the El Castillo. ...

Ascension

Chichen Itza rose to regional prominence towards the end of the Early Classic period (or, roughly 600 AD). It was, however, towards the end of the Late Classic and into the early part of the Terminal Classic that the site became a major regional capitol, centralizing and dominating political, sociocultural, economic, and ideological life in the northern Maya lowlands. The ascension of Chichen Itza roughly correlates with the decline and fragmentation of the major centers of the southern Maya lowlands, such as Tikal. Mesoamerican chronology The chronology of Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica is usually divided into the following eras: Paleo-Indian Period c. ... Mesoamerican chronology The chronology of Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica is usually divided into the following eras: Paleo-Indian Period c. ... Mesoamerican chronology The chronology of Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica is usually divided into the following eras: Paleo-Indian Period c. ... For other uses, see Tikal (disambiguation). ...


Some ethnohistoric sources claim that in about 987 a Toltec king named Quetzalcoatl arrived here with an army from central Mexico, and (with local Maya allies) made Chichen Itza his capital, and a second Tula. The art and architecture from this period shows an interesting mix of Maya and Toltec styles. However, the recent re-dating of Chichen Itza's decline (see below) indicates that Chichen Itza is largely a Late/Terminal Classic site, while Tula remains an Early Postclassic site (thus reversing the direction of possible influence). Ethnohistory uses both historical and ethnographic data as its foundation. ... The Atlantes – columns in the form of Toltec warriors in Tula. ... Tula is a town of about 10,000 in Hidalgo State, central Mexico, some 57 miles to the north north-west of Mexico City. ...


Political organization

Unlike previous Maya polities of the Early Classic, Chichen Itza was not governed by an individual ruler or a single dynastic lineage. Instead, according to Sharer and Traxler (2006:581), the city’s political organization was structured by a "multepal" system, which is characterized as rulership through council. The council was composed of members of elite ruling lineages. A dynasty is a family or extended family which retains political power across generations, or more generally, any organization which extends dominance in its field even as its particular members change. ... It has been suggested that Kinship be merged into this article or section. ... For other uses, see Elite (disambiguation). ...


Economy

Chichen Itza was a major economic power in the northern Maya lowlands during its apogee. Participating in the water-borne circum-peninsular trade route through its port site of Isla Cerritos, Chichen Itza was able to obtain locally unavailable resources from distant areas such as central Mexico (obsidian) and southern Central America (gold). This article is about a type of volcanic glass. ... For other uses, see Central America (disambiguation). ... GOLD refers to one of the following: GOLD (IEEE) is an IEEE program designed to garner more student members at the university level (Graduates of the Last Decade). ...


Decline of Chichen Itza

See also: Spanish conquest of Yucatán

The Maya chronicles record that in 1221 a revolt and civil war broke out, and archeological evidence seemed to confirm that the wooden roofs of the great market and the Temple of the Warriors were burned at about this date. Chichen Itza went into decline as rulership over Yucatán shifted to Mayapan. The Spanish Conquest of Yucatán was the campaign undertaken by the Spanish conquistadores against the Late Postclassic Maya states and polities, particularly in the northern and central Yucatán Peninsula but also involving the Maya polities of the Guatemalan highlands region. ... Mayapan (in Spanish Mayapán) is a Pre-Columbian Maya site in the state of Yucatán, Mexico, about 40 km south-east of Mérida and 100 km west of Chichen Itza. ...


This long-held chronology, however, has been drastically revised in recent years. As archaeologists improve their knowledge of changes in regional ceramics, and more radiocarbon dates arise out of ongoing work at Chichen Itza, the end of this Maya capital is now being pushed back over 200 years. Archaeological data now indicates that Chichen Itza fell by around AD 1000. This leaves an enigmatic gap between the fall of Chichen Itza and its successor, Mayapan. Ongoing research at the site of Mayapan may help resolve this chronological conundrum.


While the site itself was never completely abandoned, the population declined and no major new constructions were built following its political collapse. The Sacred Cenote, however, remained a place of pilgrimage. Sacred Cenote at Chichén Itzá Sacred Cenote (Well of Sacrifice) is a noted cenote at the Mayan site of Chichen Itza. ...


In 1531 Spanish Conquistador Francisco de Montejo claimed Chichén Itzá and intended to make it the capital of Spanish Yucatán, but after a few months a native Maya revolt drove Montejo and his forces from the land. A Conquistador (Spanish: []) (English: Conqueror) was a Spanish soldier, explorer and adventurer who took part in the gradual invasion and conquering of much of the Americas and Asia Pacific, bringing them under Spanish colonial rule between the 15th and 19th centuries. ... Francisco de Montejo (c. ...


The site

East side of El Castillo
East side of El Castillo
Great Ballcourt (interior)
Great Ballcourt (interior)
Templo de los Guerreros (Temple of the Warriors).
Templo de los Guerreros (Temple of the Warriors).
High Priest's Temple.
"El Caracol" observatory temple.
"El Caracol" observatory temple.
"La Iglesia" in Las Monjas complex of buildings.
"La Iglesia" in Las Monjas complex of buildings.

The site contains many fine stone buildings in various states of preservation; the buildings were formerly used as temples, palaces, stages, markets, baths, and ballcourts. Image File history File linksMetadata Size of this preview: 800 × 600 pixels Full resolution (2272 × 1704 pixel, file size: 2. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Size of this preview: 800 × 600 pixels Full resolution (2272 × 1704 pixel, file size: 2. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (2304x1728, 1344 KB)Taken April 2005. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (2304x1728, 1344 KB)Taken April 2005. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (2272x1520, 1730 KB) File links The following pages link to this file: Chichen Itza Metadata This file contains additional information, probably added from the digital camera or scanner used to create or digitize it. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (2272x1520, 1730 KB) File links The following pages link to this file: Chichen Itza Metadata This file contains additional information, probably added from the digital camera or scanner used to create or digitize it. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1024x768, 306 KB)El Caracol observatory at Chichen Itza. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1024x768, 306 KB)El Caracol observatory at Chichen Itza. ... Image File history File links Metadata Size of this preview: 797 × 600 pixelsFull resolution (800 × 602 pixel, file size: 369 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) File historyClick on a date/time to view the file as it appeared at that time. ... Image File history File links Metadata Size of this preview: 797 × 600 pixelsFull resolution (800 × 602 pixel, file size: 369 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) File historyClick on a date/time to view the file as it appeared at that time. ...


El Castillo

Dominating the center of Chichén is the Temple of Kukulcan (the Maya name for Quetzalcoatl), often referred to as "El Castillo" (the castle). This step pyramid has a ground plan of square terraces with stairways up each of the 4 sides to the temple on top. On the Spring and Fall equinox, at the rising and setting of the sun, the corner of the structure casts a shadow in the shape of a plumed serpent - Kukulcan, or Quetzalcoatl - along the side of the North staircase. On these two days, the shadows from the corner tiers slither down the northern side of the pyramid with the sun's movement. El Castillo, Chichen Itza West side of El Castillo Plumed Serpent Ballcourt, from El Castillo El Castillo (Spanish for The Castle) is the nickname of a spectacular Mesoamerican step-pyramid that dominates the center of the Chichen Itza archaeological site in the Mexican state of Yucatán. ... In Maya mythology, Gukumatz (feathered serpent) was a snake god, one of all three groups of gods who created Earth and humanity. ... It has been suggested that this article be split into multiple articles. ... The Pyramid of the Moon, Teotihuacan, is one example of an enormous step pyramid. ... In astronomy, the vernal equinox (spring equinox, March equinox, or northward equinox) is the equinox at the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere: the moment when the sun appears to cross the celestial equator, heading northward. ... In astronomy, the autumnal equinox signals the beginning of autumn in the northern hemisphere: the moment when the sun appears to cross the celestial equator, heading southward; the equinox occurs around September 22–September 24, varying slightly each year according to the 400-year cycle of leap years in...


Mesoamerican cultures periodically built larger pyramids atop older ones, and this is one such example. In the mid 1930s, the Mexican government sponsored an excavation into El Castillo. After several false starts, they discovered a staircase under the north side of the pyramid. By digging from the top, they found another temple buried below the current one. Inside the temple chamber was a Chac Mool statue and a throne in the shape of jaguar, painted red with spots made of inlaid jade. Chac Mool statue from the Chichen Itza site Chac-Mool is the name given to a type of Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican stone altar. ...


The Mexican government excavated a tunnel from the base of the north staircase, up the earlier pyramid’s stairway to the hidden temple, and opened it to tourists. In 2006, INAH closed the throne room to the public.


Temple of the Warriors

The Temple of the Warriors complex consists of a large stepped pyramid fronted and flanked by rows of carved columns depicting warriors. This complex is analogous to Temple B at the Toltec capital of Tula, and indicates some form of cultural contact between the two regions. The one at Chichen Itza, however, was constructed on a larger scale. At the top of the stairway on the pyramid’s summit (and leading towards the entrance of the pyramid’s temple) is a Chac Mool. Chac Mool statue from the Chichen Itza site Chac-Mool is the name given to a type of Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican stone altar. ...


Near the Warriors is a large plaza surrounded by pillars called "The Great Market."


The Great Ball Court

Archaeologists have identified seven courts for playing the Mesoamerican ballgame in Chichén, but the Great Ball Court about 150 meters to the north-west of the Castillo is by far the most impressive. It is the largest ball court in ancient Mesoamerica. It measures 166 by 68 meters (545 by 232 feet). The imposing walls are 12 meters high, and in the center, high up on each of the long walls, are rings carved with intertwining serpents.[6] Ballcourt at Monte Alban Ballcourt at Uaxactun The Mesoamerican ballgame[1] was a sport with ritual associations played for over 3000 years by the peoples of Mesoamerica in Pre-Columbian times. ...


At the base of the high interior walls are slanted benches with sculpted panels of teams of ball players. In one panel, one of the players has been decapitated and from the wound emits seven streams of blood; six become wriggling serpents and the center becomes a winding plant.


At one end of the Great Ball Court is the North Temple, popularly called the Temple of the Bearded Man. This small masonry building has detailed bas relief carving on the inner walls, including a center figure that has carving under his chin that resembles facial hair.[7] At the south end is another, much bigger temple, but in ruins.


Built into east wall are the Temples of the Jaguar. The Upper Temple of the Jaguar overlooks the ball court and has an entrance guarded by two, large columns carved in the familiar feathered serpent motif. Inside there is a large mural, much destroyed, which depicts a battle scene.


In the entrance to the Lower Temple of the Jaguar, which opens behind the ball court, is another jaguar throne, similar to the one in the inner temple of El Castillo, except that it is well worn and missing paint or other decoration. The outer columns and the walls inside the temple are covered with elaborate bas-relief carvings.


Behind this platform is a walled inscription which depicts a tzompantli (rack of impaled human skulls) in relief. A stake used to display the heads of victims or defeated Mesoamerican ball game opponents. ...


High Priest's Temple

This step-pyramid temple is a smaller version of El Castillo; the name comes from an elite burial discovered by early excavator E. H. Thompson.


Las Monjas

One of the more notable structures at Chichen Itza is a complex of Terminal Classic buildings constructed in the Puuc architectural style. The Spanish nicknamed this complex Las Monjas ("The Nuns" or "The Nunnery") but was actually a governmental palace. Just to the east is a small temple (nicknamed La Iglesia, "The Church") decorated with elaborate masks of the rain god Chaac. General boundaries of the Puuc region. ... Chaac (also rendered as Chaak or Chac) is the originally Yucatec name of the Maya rain deity. ...


A number of other structures are near the "Monjas" complex. These include:

  • "The Red House"
  • "The House of the Deer"

El Caracol

To the north of Las Monjas is a round building on a large square platform nicknamed El Caracol or "the snail" for the stone spiral staircase inside. This structure was an observatory with its doors aligned to view the vernal equinox, the Moon's greatest northern and southern declinations, and other astronomical events sacred to Kukulcan, the feathered-serpent god of the wind and learning. The Maya used the shadows inside the room cast from the angle of the sun hitting the doorway to tell when the solstices would occur. Placed around the edge of El Caracol are large rock cups that they filled with water and would watch the reflection of the stars in the water to help determine their complex, but extremely accurate calendar system.[citation needed] Illumination of Earth by Sun on the day of equinox The vernal equinox (or spring equinox) marks the beginning of astronomical spring. ... This article is about Earths moon. ... In Maya mythology, Gukumatz (feathered serpent) was a snake god, one of all three groups of gods who created Earth and humanity. ...


Akab Dzib

Located to the east of the Caracol, Akab Dzib means, in Maya, "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’.[8]. INAH completed a restoration of the building in 2007. It is relatively short, only 6 meters high, and is 50 meters in length and 15 meters 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 door jamb 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.


Old Chichen

"Old Chichen" is the nickname for a group of structures to the south of the central site. It includes the Initial Series Group, the Phallic Temple, the Platform of the Great Turtle, the Temple of the Owls, and the Temple of the Monkeys.


Other structures

Chichen Itza also has a variety of other structures densely packed in the ceremonial center of about 5 km² (2 mile²) and several outlying subsidiary sites.


Caves of Balankanche

Approximately 4 km west of the Chichen Itza archaeological zone are a network of sacred caves known as Balankanche (Spanish: Gruta de Balankanche). In the caves, a large selection of ancient pottery and idols may be seen still in the positions where they were left in pre-Columbian times.


The location of the cave has been well known in modern times. Edward Thompson and Alfred Tozzer visited it in 1905. A.S. Pearse and a team of biologists explored the cave in 1932 and 1936. E. Wyllys Andrews also explored the cave in the 1930s. Edwin Shook and R.E. Smith explored the cave on behalf of the Carnegie Institution in 1954, and dug several trenches to recover potsherds and other artifacts. Shook determined that the cave had been inhabited over a long period, at least from the Preclassic to the post-conquest era.[9] Alfred Marston Tozzer (4 July 1877 - 5 October 1954) was an American anthropologist, archaeologist, linguist, and educator. ...


On 15 September 1959, José Humberto Gómez, a local guide, discovered a false wall in the cave. Behind it he found an extended network of caves with significant quantities of undisturbed archaeological remains, including pottery and stone-carved censers, stone implements and jewelry. INAH converted the cave into an underground museum, and the objects after being catalogued were returned to their original place so visitors can see them in situ.[10]


Archaeological investigations

Chichén Itzá entered the popular imagination in 1843 with the book Incidents of Travel in Yucatan by John Lloyd Stephens (with illustrations by Frederick Catherwood). The book recounted Stephens’ visit to Yucatan and his tour of Maya cities, including Chichén Itzá. The book prompted other explorations of the city. In 1860, Desire Charnay surveyed Chichén Itzá and took numerous photographs that he published in Cités et ruines américaines (1863). John Lloyd Stephens in 1839 John Lloyd Stephens (November 28, 1805–October 13, 1852) was an American explorer, writer, and diplomat. ... Claude-Joseph Désiré Charnay (2 May 1828 - 24 October 1915) was a French traveller and archaeologist notable both for his explorations of Mexico and Central America, and for the pioneering use of photography to document his discoveries. ...


In 1875, Augustus Le Plongeon and his wife Alice Dixon Le Plongeon visited Chichén, and excavated a statue of a figure on its back, knees drawn up, upper torso raised on its elbows with a plate on its stomach. Augustus Le Plongeon called it “Chaacmol” (later renamed “Chac Mool,” which has been the term to describe all types of this statuary found in Mesoamerica). Teobert Maler and Alfred Maudslay explored Chichén in the 1880s and both spent several weeks at the site and took extensive photographs. Maudslay published the first long-form description of Chichén Itzá in his book, Biologia Centrali-Americana. Augustus Le Plongeon (1825-1908) was an archaeologist who excavated the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza in Yucatan. ... Alice Dixon Le Plongeon (1851-1910) was an English photographer, amateur archaeologist and traveller, who spent 11 years living and working in Central America photographing and studying the Maya civilization. ... Chac Mool statue from the Chichen Itza site Chac-Mool is the name given to a type of Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican stone altar. ... Teoberto Maler or Teobert Maler (12 January 1842 – 22 November 1917) was an explorer who devoted his energies to documenting the ruins of the Maya civilization. ... Alfred Maudslay (1850-1931) was a British colonial diplomat, explorer and archaeologist. ...


In 1894 the United States Consul to Yucatán, Edward H. Thompson purchased the Hacienda Chichen, which included the ruins of Chichen Itzá. For 30 years, Thompson explored the ancient city. His discoveries included the earliest dated carving upon a lintel in the Temple of the Initial Series and the excavation of several graves in the Ossario (High Priest’s Temple). Thompson is most famous for dredging the Cenote Sagrado (Sacred Cenote) from 1904 to 1910, where he recovered artifacts of gold, copper and carved jade, as well as the first-ever examples of what were believed to be pre-Columbian Maya cloth and wooden weapons. Thompson shipped the bulk of the artifacts to the Peabody Museum at Harvard University. Edward Herbert Thompson (28 September 1856 - 11 May 1935) was a United States born archaeologist and diplomat. ... Sacred Cenote at Chichén Itzá Sacred Cenote (Well of Sacrifice) is a noted cenote at the Mayan site of Chichen Itza. ... The Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology is a museum affiliated with Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. ...


In 1913, archaeologist Sylvanus G. Morley persuaded the Carnegie Institution to fund an extensive archaeological project at Chichén Itzá, which included mapping the ruins and restoring several of the monuments. The Mexican Revolution and the following government instability prevented the Carnegie from beginning work until 1924. Over the course of 10 years, the Carnegie researchers excavated and restored the Temple of Warriors and the Caracol. At the same time, the Mexican government excavated and restored El Castillo and the Great Ball Court. Photograph taken c. ...


In 1926, the Mexican government charged Edward Thompson with theft, claiming he stole the artifacts from the Cenote Sagrado and smuggled them out of the country. The government seized the Hacienda Chichén. Thompson, who was in the United States at the time, never returned to Yucatan. He wrote about his research and investigations of the Maya culture in a book People of the Serpent published in 1932. He died in New Jersey in 1935. In 1944 the Mexican Supreme Court ruled that Thompson had broken no laws and returned Chichén Itzá to his heirs. The Thompsons sold the hacienda to tourism pioneer Fernando Barbachano Peon, and his heirs own the property today.


There have been two later expeditions to recover artifacts from the Cenote Sagrado, in 1961 and 1967. The first was sponsored by the National Geographic, and the second by private interests. Both projects were supervised by Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH). INAH has conducted an ongoing effort to excavate and restore other monuments in the archaeological zone, including the Ossario, Akab D’zib, and several buildings in Chichén Viejo (Old Chichen). The Mexican Institute Nacional de Antropología e Historia (National Institute of Anthropology and History known as INAH for its Spanish abbreviation) is the federal government bureau established in 1939 to guarantee the research, preservation, protection, and promotion of the prehistoric, archaeological, anthropological, historical, and paleontological heritage of Mexico. ...


Tourism

Tourism has been a factor at Chichen Itza for more than a century. John Lloyd Stephens, who popularized the Maya Yucatan in the public’s imagination with his book Incidents of Travel in Yucatan, inspired many to make a pilgrimage to Chichén Itzá. Even before the book was published, Benjamin Norman and Baron Emmanuel de Friederichsthal traveled to Chichen after meeting Stephens, and both published the results of what they found.


After Edward Thompson in 1894 purchased the Hacienda Chichén, which included Chichen Itza, he received a constant stream of visitors. In 1910 he announced his intention to construct a hotel on his property, but abandoned those plans, probably because of the Mexican Revolution.


In the early 1920s, a group of Yucatecans, lead by writer/photographer Francisco Gomez Rul, began working toward expanding tourism to Yucatan. They urged Governor Felipe Carrillo Puerto to build roads to the more famous monuments, including Chichen Itza. In 1923, Governor Carrillo Puerto officially opened the highway to Chichen Itza. Gomez Rul published one of the first guidebooks to Yucatan and the ruins.


Gomez Rul's son-in-law, Fernando Barbachano Peon (a grandnephew of former Yucatan Governor Miguel Barbachano), started Yucatan’s first official tourism business in the early 1920s. He began by meeting passengers that arrived by steamship to Progreso, the port north of Merida, and persuading them to spend a week in Yucatan, after which they would catch the next steamship to their next destination. In his first year Barbachano Peon reportedly was only able to convince seven passengers to leave the ship and join him on a tour. In the mid-1920s Barbachano Peon persuaded Edward Thompson to sell five acres of property next to Chichen for a hotel. In 1927, the Mayaland Hotel opened, just north of the Hacienda Chichén, which had been taken over by the Carnegie Institution. Miguel Barbachano y Tarrazo (1806 - 17 December 1859) was a liberal Yucatecan politician, who was 5 times governor of Yucatán between 1841 and 1853. ...


In 1944, Barbachano Peon purchased all of the Hacienda Chichén, including Chichen Itza, from the heirs of Edward Thompson. Around that same time the Carnegie completed its work at Chichen Itza and abandoned the Hacienda Chichén, which Barbachano turned into another seasonal hotel.


In 1972, Mexico enacted the Ley Federal Sobre Monumentos y Zonas Arqueológicas, Artísticas e Históricas (Federal Law over Monuments and Archeological, Artistic and Historic Sites) that put all the nation's pre-Columbian monuments, including those at Chichen Itza, under federal ownership.[11] There were now hundreds, if not thousands of visitors every year to Chichen Itza, and more were expected with the development of Cancún resort area to the east. Giant Mexican flag in the Hotel Zone Cancún (pronounced as IPA: ) is a coastal city in Mexicos easternmost state, Quintana Roo, on the Yucatán Peninsula. ...


In the 1980s, Chichen Itza began to receive an influx of visitors on the day of the spring equinox. Today several thousand show up to see the light-and-shadow effect on the Temple of Kukulcan in which the feathered serpent god supposedly can be seen to crawl down the side of the pyramid.[12] In astronomy, the vernal equinox (spring equinox, March equinox, or northward equinox) is the equinox at the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere: the moment when the sun appears to cross the celestial equator, heading northward. ...


Chichen Itza, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the second most visited of Mexico's archaeological sites.[13] The archaeological site draws many visitors from the popular tourist resort of Cancún, who make a day trip on tourist buses. In 2007, Chichen Itza's El Castillo was named one of the Seven Wonders of the World after a worldwide vote. Despite the fact that the vote was sponsored by a commercial enterprise, and that its methodology was criticized, the vote was embraced by government and tourism officials in Mexico who project that as a result of the publicity the number of tourists expected to visit Chichen will double by 2012.[14] UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) is a specialized agency of the United Nations established in 1945. ... A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a specific site (such as a forest, mountain, lake, desert, monument, building, complex, or city) that has been nominated and confirmed for inclusion on the list maintained by the international World Heritage Programme administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, composed of 21 State... Giant Mexican flag in the Hotel Zone Cancún (pronounced as IPA: ) is a coastal city in Mexicos easternmost state, Quintana Roo, on the Yucatán Peninsula. ...


Over the past several years, INAH, which manages the site, has been closing monuments to public access. While visitors can walk around them, they can no longer climb them or go inside their chambers. The most recent was El Castillo, which was closed after a San Diego, Calif., woman fell to her death in 2006.[15]


References

  1. ^ See inogolo: pronunciation of Chichen Itza.
  2. ^ About the legal basis of the ownership of Chichen and other sites of patrimony, see Lisa Breglia, Monumental Ambivalence: The Politics of Heritage (Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press, 2005), specifically Chapter 3, "Chichen Itza, a Century of Privatization". Regarding ongoing conflicts over the ownership of Chichen Itza, see Quetzil Castaneda "On the Tourism Wars of Yucatán: Tíich’, the Maya Presentation of Heritage." in the Anthropology Newsletter, May, pp. 8-9 (online at http://www.aaanet.org/press/an/infocus/Heritage_In_Focus/Castaneda.htm)
  3. ^ The word uuc (uc’ or uuk) in Maya means “seven.” The second word, if yab is "many," if hab then it is "year," if ab, then a certain kind of fruit. Lyle Campbell, a specialist in Maya and Mesoamerican linguistics, has suggested that the word may refer to a particular kind of stone or caves, a possible allusion to the Seven Caves held to be a place of origin for some Central Mexicans.. The third word, if nal, means “corn,” or if it is a particle, then it is a type of suffix that indicates possession or attribute to what it is attached. This, therefore, is a notoriously difficult proper name/phrase to interpret (and some translators have believe that it is not even a name for Chichén Itzá). None of the suggested translations easily fit into the Maya logic and conventions of naming places.
  4. ^ Clemency Chase Coggins (ed.), Artifacts from the Cenote of Sacrifice, Chichén Itzá, Yucatan: Textiles, Basketry, Stone, Bone, Shell, Ceramics, Wood, Copal, Rubber, Other Organic Materials, and Mammalian Remains. (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1992)
  5. ^ "Sacrifice and Ritual Body Mutilation in Postclassical Maya Society: Taphonomy of the Human Remains from Chichén Itzá's Cenote Sagrado" in: "New Perspectives on Human Sacrifice and Ritual Body Treatments in Ancient Maya Society", New York, 2007.
  6. ^ A popular explanation is that the objective of the game was to pass a ball through one of the rings, however in other, smaller ball courts there is no ring, only a post.
  7. ^ Manuel Cirerol Sansores, Chi Cheen Itsa: Archaeological Paradise of America (Merida, 1948), 94-96
  8. ^ Voss, Alexander W., and H. Juergen Kremer (2000), “K'ak'-u-pakal, Hun-pik-tok' and the Kokom: The Political Organization of Chichén Itzá.” In The Sacred and the Profane.Architecture and Identity in the Southern Maya Lowlands, 3rd European Maya Conference, University of Hamburg, November 1998, Pierre R. Colas et al. (eds), 149–181. Acta Mesoamericana 10, Saurwein, Markt Schwaben.
  9. ^ E. Wyllys Andrews, “Excavations at the Gruta de Balankanche, 1959,” Miscellaneous Series No. 11, Middle American Research Institute (New Orleans: Tulane University, 1961), 28-31
  10. ^ E. Wyllys Andrews IV, Bancanche: Throne of the Tiger Priest, Publication 32, Middle American Research Institute (New Orleans: Tulane University, 1970)
  11. ^ Breglia, Monumental Ambivalence, 45-46.
  12. ^ See Quetzil Castaneda (1996) In The Museum of Maya Culture (University of Minnesota Press) for a book length study of tourism at Chichen, including a chapter on the equinox ritual. For a 90 minute ethnographic documentary of new age spiritualism at the Equinox see Jeff Himpele and Castaneda (1997)[Incidents of Travel in Chichen Itza] (Documentary Educational Resources).
  13. ^ "Compendio Estadistico del Turismo en Mexico 2006," Secretaria de Turismo, Mexico City, D.F.
  14. ^ ”Chichen Itza podria duplicar visitants en 5 anos si es declarada maravilla,” EFE news service, June 29, 2007. Figure is attributed to Francisco Lopez Mena, director of Consejo de Promocion Turistica de Mexico (CPTM).
  15. ^ Diario de Yucatan, "Fin a una exención para los mexicanos: Pagarán el día del equinoccio en la zona arqueológica"3 March 2006.

Lyle Campbell is a linguist at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah, and the director of the universitys Center for American Indian Languages (CAIL). ... is the 180th day of the year (181st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2007 (MMVII) is the current year, a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar and the AD/CE era in the 21st century. ... is the 62nd day of the year (63rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2006 (MMVI) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ...

Further reading

  • Chichen Itza was popularized by American John Lloyd Stephens in Incidents of Travel in Yucatan, (two volumes, 1843)
  • Holmes, Archæological Studies in Ancient Cities of Mexico, (Chicago, 1895)
  • Spinden, Maya Art, (Cambridge, 1912)
  • Coggins & Shane, "Cenote Of Sacrifice", (U. of Texas, 1984) very scarce.

John Lloyd Stephens in 1839 John Lloyd Stephens (November 28, 1805–October 13, 1852) was an American explorer, writer, and diplomat. ...

External links

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Chichén Itzá

Coordinates: 20°40′58″N, 88°34′09″W Image File history File links Flag_of_Mexico. ... Map of Earth showing lines of latitude (horizontally) and longitude (vertically), Eckert VI projection; large version (pdf, 1. ...


 
 

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