National Geographic : 1925 Jan
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE Photograph from the Carnegie Institution THE CASTILLO, OR GREAT TEMPLE OF KUKULCAN, PATRON DEITY OF CHICIIEN ITZA This majestic pyramid, surmounted by an imposing temple, rises in nine receding terraces to a height of 1oo feet above the plain and covers an acre of ground. It is approached by four stairways, one on each side, the one ascending the northern face, or front, being flanked by enormous balustrades carved in the likeness of the Feathered Serpent, patron deity of the city, the head resting on the ground at the foot of the stairway, the tail rearing itself aloft on top. The temple proper contains three chambers: an antechamber, or outer corridor, a back corridor extending around on both sides, and the inner sanctuary, the most holy place in the city. It was here that the ceremonies began-the incensing of the sacrificial victims, which terminated so tragically at the brink of the Cenote of Sacrifice, a quarter of a mile distant, at the other end of the Via Sacra (see page 80). again on the trek, moved westward across the peninsula of Yucatan and founded a new capital, called Chakanputun, in the region south of the modern Campeche, where they dwelt for more than two cen turies. This first abandonment of Chichen Itza was roughly contemporaneous with the final abandonment of the last surviving cities of the Old Empire-Tikal, Xultun, Uaxactun, Nakum, and others in the northeastern corner of Guatemala-and it may possibly have been due to the same cause, whatever that was, perhaps as al ready suggested, to the High Cost of Living. THE CITY REOCCUPIED The destruction of Chakanputun by fire in 944 A. D. again set the "Holy Men of the Itza" wandering, and, perhaps mind ful of those two cool and refreshing cenotes at the "Mouths of the Wells of the Itza," like homing pigeons, they turned their steps thither and reoccupied the site in 964 A. D. i ..