Monday, January 28, 2013

Day 3 of a break much needed

Today is the day I have been waiting for for several years. John, McKensie and I are going to Chichen Itza!
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah. A few years ago John and I went to Tulum and loved it so much we wanted to see Chichen Itza also.
Christian, Amanda, Nicole, Sherry and Paul all went to a resort to lay on the beach, play beach games and water play also. I'm sure they will have fun but it cannot compare to Mayan Ruins.

WOW! Totally exceeded my expectations. The history of Mayans is fascinating to me. I am amazed at the buildings, agriculture, textiles and art. Our tour guide gave us a great initial run down of the area we were traveling into as well as the culture.

Now for a little history lesson....
Chichen Iza means: At the mouth of the well at Itza. It is one of the largest Maya cities. There are many styles of architecture which suggests the people who occupied this area came from many other areas. It is suggested that no one person was a ruler there but more like a council through elite ruling lineage although in recent years some have called into question this theory. It is not clear if the inhabitants left the area of their own accord or if they were conquered. Spain did come in the early 1500's. They did lay claim to much of the land but after a few years the Maya's revolted and ran them out. By the Late 1500's Spain had once again layed hold on the area and established a large working cattle ranch.

In the mid to late 1800's there were books written on this area and an influx of people from all over the world came to see for themselves this beautiful land. In the early 1900's the United States worked in tandom with the state of Yucatan to conduct archeological digs and fact finding.

El Castillo
At the North Platform of Chichen Itza is the Temple of Kukulkan (a Maya feathered serpent diety similar to the Aztec Quetzalcoatl, This step pyramid stands about 98 ft high and has 9 square terraces. The 4 faces of the pyramid have protruding stairways. At the bottom of the Northeastern staircase there are carved serpent heads. periodically Mesoamerican cultures superimposed other structures of already built ones. They did this with El Castillo. There is another Temple buried under this one. They found inside the temple chamber a Chac Mool statue and a throne in the shape of Jaguar, painted red and with spots made of inlaid jade.

On the Spring and Autumn equinoxes, in the late afternoon, the northwest corner of the pyramid casts a series of triangular shadows against the western balustrade on the north side that evokes the appearance of a serpent wriggling down the staircase. Some have suggested the effect was an intentional design by the Maya builders to represent the feathered-serpent god Kukulcan. Archaeologists have found no evidence to support such an assertion.(This picture is not my own. It depicts better then mine of the serpent like area coming down the pyramid.)

The Great Ball Court
On each side of the great ball court there are Temples. One Temple is in ruins. The other 3 are wonderful. The Temple of the Jaguar had been open to the public until 2006. Patrons could go into the throne room and see not only the throne but also the large mural that depicts a battle scene.

The very large area is where they played a game with a ball that weighed approx 5 lbs. They were only allowed to touch the ball with their shoulders, elbows, hips and knees. The object was to get the ball into the hoop that is hooked to the stone wall. There are players and a captain although the captain is the only person that can put the ball into the hoop. Once the ball is in the hoop that team wins. The winner captain is also beheaded by the looser captain. They felt as though this was the greatest reward because they could go to the great beyond where they would have greater glory. 

There is so much more I could tell you of this area but it may take all day to read if I did. This area is rich in history and I hope that you one day will be able to see if first hand.

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