Saturday, February 21, 2009

Chichen Itza....Mayan Ruins

This post is going to be much like a travel-log I'm afraid...because we certainly were the typical tourists when visiting this site. We took a 2 1/2 hour bus ride through the Yucatan jungle to get to this most famous site of the Mayan Empire. We watched an interesting video on the way about the Mayans and their civilization. One thing interesting to learn was that although the ancient civilization was lost, their are still about 6 million Mayan Indians still living in Mexico and Central America. Chichen Itza (which means the home of the Itza tribe of Mayans) is probably the most famous of the ruins that have been found. The pyramid structure above is the one most often shown in photos of the ruins. It has just lately been added to the list of the 'new' 8 wonders of the world.
There are 4 symmetrical sides with a stairway of 90 steps going up on each side. You can no longer climb the stairs or go up to the structure close enough to touch it. My father-in-law Larry was lucky enough to visit it when he was able to climb the stairs to the top, although he shared he did fall on the very top step. This structure was a temple or sacred building and they think only priests could go up to the top. It was also used as a burial site for a Mayan king under the structure. Dad told us that he was able to see into some of the rooms underneath when he visited. The ruins of Chichen Itza are approx. 22 square miles, with many structures they have uncovered with various purposes.

This is a ball court wall and hoop, where the Mayans would play a particular game. It seems to be much like soccer where the ball was hit by hips and feet or even heads but no hands or arms. The idea was to get the ball through this hoop.
This is actually a better view of the court and there is a similar wall on the opposite side, with the opponents hoop. The captain of each team would run along the ledge on his side, shown above by the line at the base of the vertical stone wall. The structure above the wall was for the high born Mayans watching the game. There were three of these structures on three sides of the court. Of course although it was a high honor to win this game, the winning captain was then sacrificed after the game.
In all our touring and listening to our tour guide it is so apparent once again that mankind is always ruled by our sovereign God. This was a very intelligent but very pagan civilization, and like others before and after, it was judged and destroyed by our God.
This is a representation of the carvings on stones that were used in the facades of all the buildings. Modern archaeologists have been able to learn much from these carvings and they were interesting to see. The Mayans had their own form of hieroglyphics and it has taken many years to interpret them. Another interesting thing is that originally all these stone buildings were washed with bright colored 'paints', and would have been red, orange and yellow. This structure was their observatory. This was the center of their learning. The Mayans had a very advanced understanding of numbers, and a precise calendar of months and years. They were the first civilization known to come up with a concept of 'zero' in the numbering system.
The area is much too big to explore it all, and truth be known it was a bit too hot for me and my sister-in-law had a headache. So after some basics we waited for our 'amature archaeologists' back at the entrance. It was interesting, and I feel our imaginations are always expanded by exposure to other cultures and dreams. There are many Mayan ruins around the Yucatan and into Central America, and some left to find out in the jungle. Remnants of a society God wiped out. The Bible says some middle east cities and civilizations were wiped out forever, with nothing left to show where they had even been. Here we at least have the remnants to piece together what the people were like and what they had learned.

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