Chich'en Itza, "At the mouth of the well of the Itza."

Chichen Itza Travel Blog

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Chich'en Itza, "At the mouth of the well of the Itza."
The Maya name "Chich'en Itza" means "At the mouth of the well of the Itza." (chi' = "mouth" or "edge", ch'e'en = "well" "Itz" = "magic" and (h)a = "water".  The Itzá were a group in the from the Tabasco and the inland water ways of Chiapas that gained political and economic dominance of that area through the development of trade routes. There eventually expanded their trade routes to the entire coasts and inland waterways of the Yucatan, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and, Nicaragua. they may have extended their trades routes along the Atlantic coast all the way to northern South America. It is likely that the Maya canoe vessel encountered by Columbus on his third voyage was a Itza Maya Trader. The Maya folk lore volume, Chilam Balams identifies this location by a per Itza name (Uuc Yabnal, or Uuc Hab Nal, or Uc Abnal).


The structures  of Chich'en Itza are considered federal property, the site is governed and maintained by Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia (INAH), however the land is privately owned by the Barbachano family.
Chich'en Itza, "At the mouth of the well of the Itza."
In 1894 Edward Herbert Thompson, US Ambassador to the Yucatan, Archaeologist once owner this site. In 1944, Barbachano Peon purchased all of the Hacienda Chichén, including the ruins of Chichen Itza, from the heirs of Edward Thompson.

Chich'en Itza, is a large site with much of the structure consolidated and able vegetation cleared to facilitate photography. Chich'en Itza is a Maya center located in the northern Yucatan Peninsula, in the Yucatan State, Mexico. Chich'en Itza was a significate center in the northern Maya lowlands from the very early Late Classic to the Early Postclassic period.
This site contains archtectural examples of several styles, including Yucatan Maya, “Mexicanized” Maya and Puuc Maya.
Chich'en Itza, "At the mouth of the well of the Itza."
The presence of “Mexicanized” Maya  style was original interpreted as a imposed style by a conquering force from Central Mexico. However, archaeological evidence now shows that pure Maya and “Mexicanized” Maya  structure were expected at the same time. Some archaeologist suggest that cultural diffusion is responsible for the “Mexicanized” Maya architecture present in Chich'en Itza.

Northern Yucatán is arid, nearly a tropical desert by definition, the interior has no above-ground rivers due to the limestone nature of the peninsula. Chichen Itza has two large cenotes, natural sink holes, that could have provided plentiful water year round.
One of these cenotes,  "Cenote Sagrado" was place to sacrifice objects and human beings into the Maya rain god "Chaac".
Chich'en Itza, "At the mouth of the well of the Itza."
Edward Herbert Thompson dredged the Cenote Sagrado from 1904 to 1910, and recovered thousands of artifacts that included gold, copper, wood, jade, pottery, incense and human remains. The human remains show evidence of wounds consistent with human sacrifice. There have been two dredging efforts to recover artifacts from the Cenote Sagrado since Thompson. 1967. In 1961 the National Geographic sponsored an effort, and in 1967  private interests dredged. Both projects were supervised by the INAH.

Chich'en Itza has numerous fine stone buildings and approximately 90 road way (Sacbeob = white road) that are in or enter the city.
Many of stone buildings are connected by the sacbeob system.
Chich'en Itza, "At the mouth of the well of the Itza."
The stone buildings were grouped into sections and were at one time separated from each other by low walls. Three of the best known sections are the Great North Platform that includes El Castillo, Temple of Warriors and the Great Ball Court (largest in mesoamerica); The Ossario Group, that includes the Ossario Pyramid and the Temple of Xtoloc; and the Central Group, that includes the Caracol, Las Monjas, and Akab Dzib.

El Castillo (Temple of Kukulkan) dominates Chich'en Itza. This stepped pyramid is  a squared based structure with staircases up each side, consisting of 91 steps each. On the Spring and Autumn equinox, at the rising and setting of the sun, the corner of the structure casts a shadow in the shape of a plumed serpent along the west side of the north staircase.
This shadow appears to slowly move down the staircase to the carved stone serpent head at the base.
Chich'en Itza, "At the mouth of the well of the Itza."
The visible pyramid is built over a smaller, earlier stepped pyramid with an interior room that contained a read jaguar shaped throne that was inlaid with jade discs to depict the spots.

The Great Ball Court is approximately 535' x 220'. The side walls are approximately 39' tall. There are relief carving along the base of both side walls. The center panel depicts a decapitated knelling ball players. The blood spraying from the neck is depicted as numerous stylized corn stalks. At both ends of the ball court are platform temples. The North Temple has been reconstructed and is referred to as the Temple of the Bearded Man, because of the detailed bas relief carvings on the inner walls that includes what appears to be a bearded man as the center figure.
On my last visit the south platform had not been restored.
Chich'en Itza, "At the mouth of the well of the Itza."
Built as part of the eastern wall is the upper and lower Temples of the Jaguar. The Upper Temple of the Jaguar opens onto the ball court This temple has 4 large square support columns. The outer two are covered in bas refief carvings depicting the feathered serpent. Inside the upper Jaguar temple are large wall murals, now badly eroded that depicts two battle scenes with Maya warriors attacking villages by both land and sea. The are siege towers depicted in one of these murals. The entrance of the Lower Temple of the Jaguar away from the ball court at the Tzompantli (skull rack). There is another jaguar throne, similar to the one in the inner temple of El Castillo, centered between bas relief carved square columns.
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Chichen Itza
photo by: ellechic