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There is evidence of a barely interrupted occupation of the area that is now known as Chichen Itza Archaeological site. In the Mesoamerican period known as Late Preclassic (400 BC to 200 AD), and until the Spaniards arrival, this is more evident. The historic period referred here is between 500 BC and 1500 AD.

The earlier periods are partially documented, being the evidence based only in the earthenware materials. There has not been excavation or identification of any dwelling structure or architectural building yet.

The earlier proof of architectural building, according to the most recent data collected by the Chichen Itza Project, belongs to the Late Classic period, between 600 and 800 AD in the traditional nomenclature for Pre Hispanic Northern Yucatan regimes.

The settlement during the period, as the available data report, extended over most of the now protected area and was conformed of huge masonry terraces. Only one building of this period has been positively dated: the Sub Structure of the Stuccos (5C4-I), in the Initial Series group, although the earliest phases of the Building of the Nuns (4C1) probably belong to this age as well as several constructions of the Late Classic period, probably covered with later structures.

Anyway, Chichen Itza had no major relevance during the Late Classic period, as compared to other contemporary developments of Northern Yucatan, such as Ek Balam, Coba, Uxmal, or Oxkintok.


Development Stage

Chichen Itza urban development began during the Late Classic period traditionally dated between 800 and 1000 AD. The monumental vaulted architecture characterized it, similar to the one of the cities of the mountainous region of Puuc. This is why this architectural style is known as Maya or Puuc.

Some of the most emblematic buildings of the city, of greatest artistic value, belong to the same period, like The Observatory (Structure 3C15), The Nuns (4C1), The Church (4C4) or the Red House (3C9).

One of the characteristics of these Puuc buildings is the presence of hieroglyphic inscriptions in Maya- Yucatec language that constantly refer to a ruler called Kak’upakal. His name means “Fire Shield” and was mentioned also by colonial sources.

These inscriptions, carved mainly on the second half of the Ninth Century, are not only found in Chichen Itza, but also in nearby Pre Hispanic settlements like Yula and Halakal. Most of them were dated with the notation system known as Tun-Ahau, except the Initial Series Lintel, that shows an inscription in the Maya Long Count Calendar.

The Early Post Classic period, traditionally dated between 1000 and 1200 AD, corresponds to the apogee of the city. It was then when the dimension and volume we know were acknowledged.

In this stage, the introduction of a style that merged elements such as columnettes, atlantean and serpent columns, similar to those found in Tula, as well as the masonry technique, promoted drastic changes in the architectural style of Chichen Itza.


New Architectural Style

The new architectural style in Chichen Itza was named Tolteca, due to the similarities with the one from Tula. This does not mean that there was a direct relationship or an ethnic affiliation between them. During this period, the Maya-Yucatec hieroglyphic inscriptions style ended, being the Templo del Osario the last building that presented them, dated on 998 AD.

This style is proliferous in representations of individuals and processions, and frequently these characters had nominal hieroglyphics, carved with a style that resembles the one used in the central area of Mexico.

The power of Chichen Itza during this stage was manifested not only trough the monumental architecture of emblematic buildings, such as El Castillo, the Temple of the Warriors or the Great Ball Court, but also through the impressive craftsmanship of sculpture in bas-relief and mural painting, as well as the quality and amount of imported objects.

The Mid Post Classic, traditionally dated between 1200 and 1350 AD, was the city decadent period. The monumental constructions ceased, and so did the imports of sumptuary objects. Chichen Itza struggled to preserve its hegemony, but the political conflicts ended when Mayapan city took the control of the area.

During the period of gradual loss of regional power, the population declined. The ancient buildings were used as house dwelling, and so were the objects left from prior times. This is why it is almost impossible to find objects from the heyday period in the places where they belonged or were supposed to be stored.

This occupation factor affects the contextual interpretations about the lifetime and habits of the dwellers of Chichen Itza in the period of its maximum development.

Mayapan city held the political power, but Chichen Itza was not abandoned during the Late Post Classic period (1350-1530 AD).


A Maya Pilgrimage Site

Two main reasons kept Chichen Itza’s continuous occupation: the nobility and prestige of being birthplace of important lineages of Northern Yucatan, being a legitimating referent, as well as the nearness to the Sacred Cenote, which kept the flow of pilgrimages to the city from all over the Peninsula, attracting as many visits as Cozumel Island.

The ritual predominance of the Cenote of Sacrifices was a crucial fact for the development of Chichen Itza as a pilgrimage centre, being this event witnessed by the Spaniards. Bishop Diego de Landa compared this site to the cities of Jerusalem and La Mecca.

The huge amount of offerings found in and nearby the Sacred Cenote motivated it’s comparison with the Panteon di Roma.

Última actualización el Jueves, 08 de Marzo de 2012 20:30
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