National Geographic : 1925 Jan
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE The foreign rulers, with their new ideas, their new customs, their new religion, gave to the Itza just that impetus, just that spur to do, which had been lacking at the end of the twelfth century, almost to the point of stagnation. Under their progres Ss. iv e and vigorous : rule, the Itzi came back strongly once again before final l eclipse overtook them in the middle of the fifteenth century. SANCTITY OF 'TiiI CITY ASSOCIATED WITH ITS NATURAL, WELLS But nothing h a s been said as yet re garding the sacred . character of Chichen Itzi during this final period, her crowning ;- . distinction as the Holy City of the Maya, our justifica tion for calling her an ancient American Photograph from the Carnegie Institution ilecca. STAIRWAY LEADING TO THE EAST WALL, OF TIlE This claim to spe TLACHTLI FIELDI cial sanctity is so inti The backs of the two side walls of the Tlachtli court originally lately connected with were provided with wide stairways ascending to their summits, which the two cenotes, which afforded a splendid view of the game being played below. The balus- had been chiefly, if trades of these stairways are again representations of the feathered not solely, responsible rattlesnake. In the stairway shown above, the rattles are at the for the location of a bottom of the balustrade and the head, now missing, was at the top. These rattles appear to the left and two steps below the standing figure. settlement here in the beginning (see text, Feathered Serpent, patron deity of the page 66), that a description of them may city. not be out of place. Other buildings of the period are the From the beginning, it is probable that Tiachtli-ground or Ball Court and the the southern cenote, that known locally as Temple of the Jaguars. the Caracol or Xtoloc, or "iguana" in Maya, had been Astronomical Observatory, the Temple of used as the chief source of the water sup the Tables, the High Priest's Grave, the ply. It is nearer the center of the city Northwest Group, etc. and its sides are less precipitous than In two and a half centuries, 1201-I448 those of the northern cenote, so that a A. D., more buildings went up in the city masonry stairway could be built down one than had been built since its foundation, side leading to the water's edge, 70 feet six centuries earlier, below the level of the ground.