Visiting Chichen Itza while in Mexico was a pilgrimage of sorts for me. I have read so much about the Mayans of late that I thought it only appropriate that I take the time out to have a look at this ancient Mayan sacred site. What I learned and saw with my own eyes was quite profound.
I decided that the only way to truly capture the vastness of the buildings was to use a panorama technique involving multiple exposures and the Photomerge feature in Photoshop. While I’m no expert in the technique (a keen eye will catch the imperfections) I think you’ll get the ‘picture’ so to speak. Click on any of the 4 thumbnails below to get the full effect.
Walking past the Mayaland Hotel, a beautiful hotel built in the Colonial Mexican style, you find the entrance to Chichen Itza, I shuffled over to pay an extra $3.50 for a permit to bring my video camera onto the site (it’s free to bring your camera) and then rejoined the line. The walk up through the woods was refreshing considering the 2 + hours we had just spent aboard our bus but after catching my first glimpse of the pyramid through the trees I was transfixed. I stepped out into the scorching midday Mexican sun and found an appropriate place to pause on the open grass to take in this giant of a building (click the picture below).
It’s down the side of this pyramid that on the solstice you can watch for about 15 minutes as Kukulcan the feathered serpent, slides down it’s North side. Unfortunately, I had missed the event by a few days. Click on the animation below (AVI, 943kb) to see what it looks like.
Next it was on to the Great Ball court (click picture below), where the object of the “game” is to get the ball through those tiny stone hoops on either side of the giant field. The winner gets to have his head cut off…nice. I put the word ‘game’ in quotation marks because it wasn’t really a game but a renactment of the legendary Mayan ‘Creation’ scenario.
Then it was over the Sacred Cenote (click picture below), where ‘pure’ Men and Women were sacrificed to it’s murky depths occasionally, typically they would through objects, semi-precious stones, some gold and clay objects in the hopes of appeasing the rain god.
Considering my interest in astronomy my next stop was to what they call ‘The Observatory’ (click picture below) because of it’s likeness to a modern observatory with a giant telescope. Obviously there was no telescope in this observatory but scientists quickly discovered that this building once again was used to predict celestial events.
The Mayan’s deep interest in astronomy and calendars helped them to establish a cycle for sowing crops and other activities which were important to the economic and social life of the city. Not to be mistaken for a city as we know it this was indeed a sacred site, the genereal population lived outside of the area. The few people who did live in the city were priests and nobles.
If you analyze the accuracy of the astronomical predictions they made in the time of this city, which was between 900 and 1200 AD… we have to consider the next great event predicted to arrive on December 23, 2012. What will happen on that date? That’s open for great discussion and great fodder for another blog at another time. Modern scientists know that on that date there will be an alignment of the Earth with the Sun, Jupiter and the center of our Milkyway Galaxy. As the Mayans predict it will not be ‘the end’ but the start of something wonderful. Time will tell!