National Geographic : 1925 Jan
CHICKEN ITZA, AN ANCIENT AMERICAN MECCA acterized by more or less architectural unity, and that se lected as the point at which the excavators should begin their work was the Group of the Thousand Col umns, an enormous construction covering, with all of its parts, more than twenty acres (see diagram to the right). This group was so named because its c h i e f architectural feature is the column, some of which are square, others round; some sculptured and others plain. In the different colonnades, porticos, temples, halls, and minor courts surrounding the great Court of the Columns, the archi tectural center of the group, more than a thousand different columns have already been counted, ample to justify the name chosen for it. The Court of the Columns contains five acres of ground. Originally it was paved with a hard lime-plaster, traces of which still are to be found at the edges, though toward the center this pavement has been destroyed by . NORTHEAST COLONNADE | 0 25 50 FEET jl--- = uGi/, GROUP OF THE THOUSAND COLUMNS C7 a y S - 0 50 100 150 200 FEET PLAN OF TIIE GROUP OF THE THOUSAND COLUMNS The Group of the Thousand Columns covers an area of 20 acres, the great central court around which its several units are arranged containing more than five acres. The group derives its name from the principal architectural feature of this part of the city, the round column, of which more than a thousand have been found in its different temples, colonnades, and halls. The principal excavation made by the Carnegie Institution during the 1924 field season was in the Northeast Colonnade, which was completely cleared of all debris and fallen masonry. An enlarged plan of this edifice appears in the inset at the upper right corner. the forest which has everywhere thrown a green mantle over Chichen Itza, since its final aban donment in the middle of the fifteenth century. The north and west sides of the court are bounded by two very long colonnades of round columns with square capitals, each five columns in depth. The remain ing sides are occupied by even more im posing buildings of greater complexity of ground plan, and it was in one of these, the Northeast Colonnade, that excava tions were begun in 1924. CLEARING THE ENTRANCES TO TIHE COURT OF THE COLUMNS As a preliminary to this, however, it was thought advisable first to clear out the two principal gateways into the Court of the Columns, so that there might be convenient entrance, without having to climb over the fallen colonnades; and here actual digging was begun on May 28.