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The ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza is one of the main places of interest for tourists visiting the Yucatan peninsula, in Mexico. The name of the city means "At the mouth of the well of the Itza", and is believed to have reached its apogee during the political and economical dominance of the Itza ethnic group over the northern Yucatan.
Chichen Itza is a large pre-Colombian archeological site built by the advanced (for its time) Mayan civilization. Archaeologists have found signs of previously built settlements in the area, but the most impressive buildings in the city were built around 600 AD.
The Mayan civilization was very advanced for its time, and had great knowledge of astronomy, geometry and last but not least – ways to measure the time. Many experts in the fields of astronomy, mathematics and other sciences find the way the Maya used to calculate time periods unique.
The essentials of their calendar system were similar to other calendar systems found in the same region of the world by other Mesoamerican civilizations, dating as far back in time as the fifth century BC.
The Mayans had a complex system of trade and economy throughout their entire history. In fact, contrary to early assertions, the Mayans actually had strong commercial ties with other Mesoamerican cultures from all over Central and South America.
This trade network initially began as a linear route which ran from the Guatemala all the way to Mexico during the Preclassic period (around 2000 BC to 300 AD). Over time, this trading network would change and shift according to political and economic necessities. Among the major trading hubs of the Mayan trade route include major city states like Kaminaljuyu and Tak’alik Ab’aj.
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The Acropolis of the Nakum Mayan site in Guatemala.
The most renowned of the Mayan ruins, the Chichen Itza ruins are famed for their amazing architecture as well as for the legends that surround the area. Chichen Itza literally means at the Mouth of the Well. The well of course refers to the sacred well nearby, where it is said that sacrifices of gold, silver, precious stones, as well as humans were sent into the well.
One legend says that those who are sent into the well as a sacrifice will have the power of prophesy if they live. When one group were sent into the well and none survived, an ancient ruler cast himself into the well and upon arising from it unscathed, prophesied his own rise to power.
Mayan Pyramids rank amongst the most impressive monuments in the modern world. Their mere existence is awe-inspiring proof of the potential of human beings, with or without technology. Before the invention of metal and electrical machinery the ancient Maya were able to accomplish incredible feats with their advancements in the sciences.
It is important to note that the advances applied to the construction of pyramids in the Mayan world were very diverse. Unlike the ancient pyramids of Egypt, for example, the Mayan pyramids, except for the Pyramid of the Prophets, did not have rounded edges.
There are two principal styles of public architecture at Chichén Itzá. The first is a local variant of the Puuc style found at sites in west-central Yucatán and northeastern Campeche. The other style, according to Peter J. Schmidt, "is partly derived from the same roots but is vastly enriched by elements and concepts from other parts of Mesoamerica, notably the Gulf Coast, Oaxaca, and central México.
Early investigators of Chichén Itzá proposed that Puuc-style traits were "Maya" and the features of the "Toltec" style include serpent columns, Chac Mools, Atlantean figures, serpent heads at the top of alfardas, tzompontlis, and carvings of processions of warriors, among others, much like those found in Copan and Tikal.
Chichen Izta, (pronounced, Cheechen eetZA) is perhaps the best known Mayan archaeological site on the Yucatan peninsula, Mexico, leading Palenque, in Chiapas, Mexico, Tikal in Guatemala and Copan in Honduras. Thought to be built on the site of a prior Mayan settlement, the city was at its height from around AD 980 to 1220, preceding the Toltecs from central Mexico, who settled here.
Many ruins of important buildings remain from this time. The Castillo and other temples with sculptures and color reliefs, an observatory, and a sacred well (cenote), into which sacrifices, including human beings, were thrown are included among these.
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