Mexico

PHOTO Series: The Ancient City of Chichén Itzá


The hot, blue skies of the ancient Mayan city of Chichén Itzá,

dominate this complex of Mayan ruins on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. A massive step pyramid, known as El Castillo or Temple of Kukulcan, dominates the ancient city, which thrived from around 600 A.D. to the 1200s. Graphic stone carvings survive at structures like the ball court, Temple of the Warriors and the Wall of the Skulls. Have you visited? Make sure to bring water, a hat and an umbrella. :

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El Castillo or Temple of Kukulcan at Chichen Itza

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El Castillo or Temple of Kukulcan

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El Castillo or Temple of Kukulcan

This wall of skulls (Tzompantli), at Chichén Itzá,

is outside the great ball court. Scholars believe that human beings were sacrificed on this platform (which was likely built between 1050-1200 A.D.), with their heads left on display following their gruesome deaths in the ancient Mayan City of Chichén Itzá, a complex of Mayan ruins on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula.

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Wall of Skulls at Chichén Itzá

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Wall of Skulls at Chichén Itzá

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Wall of Skulls at Chichén Itzá

The Ball Court in the ancient Mayan city of Chichén Itzá,

a complex of Mayan ruins on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. Chichen Itza contain no less than 13 ball courts, but the Great Ball Court is by far the most impressive. At 545 by 223 feet (166 x 68 meter) it is the largest ball court in Mesoamerica. The ball court has an I-shaped playing ground and a small temple at either end. To the north stands the North Temple or Temple of the Bearded Man, a small masonry building with detailed bas-relief carvings on the inner walls, including a center figure that has carving under his chin that resembles facial hair. At the south end stand another, much bigger temple, but in ruins.

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The Ball Court in the ancient Mayan City of Chichén Itzá

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The Ball Court in the ancient Mayan City of Chichén Itzá

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Chichén Itzá

The Great Ball Court was dedicated in 864 AD and is radically different than any other Mayan ball court, which is smaller and has sloping sided courts. The two vertical walls of the Great Ball Court are 39 feet high (12 meters) high with rings carved with intertwining serpents in the center of each wall. Both walls are carved with scenes showing teams of ballplayers. One panel shows a headless player kneeling with blood shooting from his neck, while another player holds the head.

 

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