National Geographic : 1925 Jan
00oo Photograph from the Carnegie Institution THE CENOTE OF SACRIFICE This natural well or hole in the limestone surface is 180 feet in diameter and 70 feet in depth, tothe water's edge. The water inthis great pocket is another 70 feet deep and remains at the same level practically the year around. This view is taken from apoint directly opposite theendof the Via Sacra, which runs from the terrace in front of the Castillo (see page 68) to the sacred well. The small mound onthefarbank, where several figures are standing, appears to have been a shrine in which offerings were made and incense was burned. The spot from which theItzan maidens were hurled to the depths below, together with the Itzan treasure of gold and jade and their most cherishedpossessions, may beseen just totheleft and a little below the standing figure in white, the masonry of the platform showing below the bank. Fringed with walls of living green, this somber pool lies sinister and silent at one's feet, its solitudebroken only bythecooing dove, themelody of the humming bird, and the music of many songsters, which have nested in the rocky ledges of its perpendicular sides. Standing onthis hallowed ground, one pictures those fearsome ceremonies, which culminated here so tragically-the long procession winding down theSacred Way, fanatical priests leading their garlanded victims amid clouds of incense, the waiting thousands gathered round the edges. One sees again that awful rite: amaiden standing at the brink, a leap, a startled cry, a hurtling swiftly through the air to death below, followed by a shower ofjades and jewels, theofferings ofthepious.