Chichén Itzá is an old Maya city located between Valladolid and Mérida in the peninsula of the Yucatán, with the Mexico. Chichén Itzá was probably the principal religious center of Yucatán and remains today one of the most visited archeological sites most important and area. The July 7th 2007, the place was indicated like one of the Seven new wonders of the world after a vote organized by the New Seven Wonders Foundation .
The presence of a Maya city at this place is due to the presence of two sand pipes (Cénote S) which constituted a priceless treasure in this area deprived of water. Besides the site owes its name with this source of subterranean water: Chi means “mouth” and Chén , “well”. Itzá is the name of the people which founded the city in 534 after J. - C. and gave up it later one century for still unknown reasons. As from the 10th century, Chichén Itzá then becomes the religious center of a civilization Maya - Toltèque flourishing and was probably a place of initiation for the priests who were sent thereafter in the remainder of Yucatán.
Principal vestiges of the site
The site is dedicated to Kukulkán, the plumed serpent. It is composed of many buildings of which most important are:
- the large pyramid ( Castillo );
- the observatory ( Caracol );
- play of ball (or winds into a ball);
- the cénote;
- the necropolis;
- the temple with the thousand columns;
- the temple of the warriors.
In many places, one can detect traces of painting which reveal that contrary to the aspect uniformly gray that the site proposes to us nowadays, it had been formerly painted in bright colors.
The most important building and most spectacular of the site is large a Pyramide in terraces, indicated by the Spanish Conquistador S the are Castillo (castle in Castillan). Of a 24 meters height of the ground at the higher platform, it is not a question highest of the area (that of Uxmal, inter alia, exceeds it to 40 m). Top of the pyramid, one can however see all the other buildings of the site which covers 300 hectares. The legend wants that at the end of the 10th century, Chichén Itzá is occupied by Toltèques led by legendary the Quetzalcoatl, the Plumed serpent, driven out Tula, the toltèque capital which is in the north of current the Mexico City by a rival faction. Castillo, allotted to these foreigners, present of the architectural innovations which turn around the topic of the Plumed serpent.
The pyramid has a square base and a calendar vocation . Indeed, the Maya Civilization developed with a very advanced degree the astro architecture which consists in combining astronomical knowledge with the knowledge to make architectural. Thus, the pyramid presents 4 faces each one divided into 9 plates and carrying a staircase of 91 steps. The full number of steps thus equalizes the number of day in the year (4*91=364 + the plate at the top = 365). The orientation and the construction of the pyramid are such as at the exact moment of the equinox S of spring and of autumn, the sun produces with stop pyramid a shadow which make believe that the famous persons of snakes to the feet of the staircases of the pyramid are prolonged by the corrugated body of a snake. This snake is not other than the god Kukulkan or “plumed serpent”. This phenomenon causes a very important surge at that time tourists. The slope of the staircases is rather stiff and if the rise generally poses little problem, giddiness frequently constrained visitors to be made use of a cord installed especially for this purpose for the descent. But since 2003, it is interdict to go up on the pyramid because of several deaths. The large pyramid was set up over smaller, preexistent. A very narrow tunnel whose entry is located under the staircase gives access a Crypte which one can visit and where one can discover a Trône stone carved in form of Jaguar to the eyes of Jade to which a chac-mool faces, on which one deposited offerings.
The observatoryThe observatory (also called caracol or Spanish snail) faced the large pyramid and made it possible the Maya studied the movement of the star S of which they had a very precise knowledge. It also makes it possible to see the Venus planet allotted to the god Kukulcan (God principal Maya).
The play of ball (or play of ball) is sometimes regarded as the ancestor of the modern Basket-ball. Two teams clash on a rectangular playing field, the objective being to make pass the ball in a circle in height. The Maya play of ball prohibited nevertheless the use of the hands but authorized that of the elbows, the thighs and the hips. Exceptional dimensions of the play of ball of Chichén Itzá lead the archeologist S to think that it acted here more Cérémonie that of a Sport. One thinks, while being pressed in particular on the large frescos in low reliefs which surround the ground, that at the time of the great festivals a team representing the forces of the inframonde (symbolized by Jaguar S) faced a team representing the light (in the shape of eagles) with an ignited ball. The match could extend over more than one day and the losers were probably sacrificed to the gods by Décapitation. The ground of ball shows surprising characteristics Acoustique S. If one produces a sound on the right (for example while claquant in its hands) ground, one can hear 7 echo S. On other side, while positioning with the left, one can hear 9 echo S. figures 7 and 9 were magic for the Maya and frequently appeared in the structures of constructions of this civilization.
The temple of the warriors
The temple of the warriors of the jaguar has frescos which report the conquest of the peninsula by the Toltèques. The entry of the temple which is built on a pyramid is delimited by two splendid pillars, finished at the base by two enormous heads of snakes and preceded by a chaac-mool: this strange character is carved in the stone in a position with half lying and resting on the elbows, so that it supports on the belly a plate intended to receive the offerings made to the god (hearts of the sacrificed victims). Very close to the temple of the warriors draws up the temple of the thousand columns, each one of them being cut in the shape of plumed serpent.
A roadway leads to 300 m towards north, with the crowned cénote, 60 m in diameter and 20 m of depth. Dredgers carried out in the Cénote made it possible to put at the day of many objects of gold and jade as well as a big number of bones (in particular of young children). These discoveries gave place to very many interpretations. Some saw the cruelty of sanguinary people there practitioner the human sacrifices to alleviate the god of the rain Chac in period of dryness: young virgins charged with invaluable ornaments would have been precipitated at the bottom of the puit during a solemn ceremony which proceeded at daybreak (to be sacrificed was then an honor). Others estimate today that they were perhaps very young deceased children and the purpose of whose sacrifice was to allow the purification or resurrection.
EconomyThe site of Chichén Itzá has an airport (code AITA: CZA).
- Maya Civilization
- Maya People
- Other Maya sites
- a quite illustrated presentation of the archeological site of Chichén-Itzá
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