By Chloe Eghobamien
Chichen Itza is regarded as one of the seven wonders of the world, and it is one of the biggest scientific advancements of mankind. Built by the Mayan civilization in 400 AD, it is truly a piece of history that shows just how intelligent the Mayans were.
A Bit of History
Chichen Itza was built in 400 AD and was established as the capital of the Mayan empire. The tallest building in Chichen Itza is called “El castillo” and was built in honor of the Mayan god Kukulkan, a serpent deity that can be seen on many of the structures of Chichen Itza. The ancient civilization was discovered in 1841 by an American explorer by the name of John L. Stephens, and he ended up buying all of the land for a grand total of seventeen dollars. Even though that is worth $587.85 today, it is still incredibly less than what the ancient city is worth. However, at this point in history, Americans believed that natives could never be capable of building something so amazing, so they didn’t feel that it was worth anything. Their explanation for how the city came to be was the Egyptians. However, they were very wrong. Chichen Itza was and still is one of the greatest architectural feats of all time.
The Mayan Calendar – How it Coordinates with Ancient Structures in Chichen Itza
The Mayans made sure to build Chichen Itza coordinating to the Mayan Calendar. Some say that El Castillo is the world’s largest calendar, as it still corresponds to major astronomical events today. During the Spring and Autumn equinox, which are the days where daylight hours and night are equal, the sun’s rays make a shadow on El Castillo, which gives the appearance of of a snake slithering down the steps. This snake is supposed to represent Kukulkan, the Mayan serpent god, and the shadow has been occurring ever since the pyramid was built.
Other than El Castillo, there are many other structures in Chichen Itza that are worth noticing. There is a big arena-like structure where Mayan people used to play a ball game called Pok a Tok. In this game, the Mayans had to get a rubber ball through a hole in the wall without using their hands. The players wore heavy padding similar to what American football players wear today. These games could last anywhere from a day to weeks. The captain of the winning team would be sacrificed. In the Mayan culture, being sacrificed was a very honorable thing, and it was supposed to help someone get through the levels of the underworld faster so that they could be reincarnated as a higher being.
A very interesting architectural feature of Chichen Itza is how sound travels throughout it. For example, when the king of Chichen Itza stood at the top of El Castillo to address his people, he couldn’t hear them but they could hear everything that he was saying, despite the great height of this structure. Echoes also travel very far in Chichen Itza. If someone claps or yells, their sound can be heard echoing back to them from several different areas in Chichen Itza, even if they aren’t in a completely enclosed area.
Chichen Itza is a fascinating city, and everyone should try to go there if they have a chance. It is truly an amazing experience to see how architecturally advanced the Mayans were.