Maya and Aztec

Ancient Mesoamerican civilizations

Chichen Itza Recovers its Wall

Category: News reports

The wall that surrounded the Prehispanic city of Chichen Itza, built near 900 AD to serve as defensive barrier, is object of investigation and restoring tasks with the aim of recovering its prior appearance and determine its relation with the Great Game Court.

Conservation work at the wall that surrounds the 6-hectares area where most important buildings at Chichen Itza are located, have been conducted for over a year by specialists of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) as well as Universidad Autonoma de Yucatan UADY (Autonomous University of Yucatan), and its third season is to begin in March 2010. Both institutions signed an academic agreement in 1995.

Dr. Rafael Cobos Palma, responsible of the research project, informed that restoration of the wall takes place with a technique called anastylosis, which consists on placing disperse elements of the surrounding zone in their original place, when there is no doubt of their origin. Specialists are not placing other material; therefore, some stretches appear incomplete.

The second exploration and restoration season at the western part concluded recently; lithic and ceramic material as well as rests of marine shells were found and used as filler for the wall.

“The third season will focus on architectural aspects related to the wall and the ball game court located to the northwest of the 6-hectares area named Great Leveling, providing information about the relation between these important elements”, declared Cobos.

Archaeologist Rodolfo Canto Carrillo, who conducts studies regarding its extension, antiquity and uses, commented that the wall that protected the neuralgic center of the city was not continuous; natural elements as hollows and depressions were used as part of the border.

“It is important that we finish research regarding the wall, because apparently it was dismantled to build the great Ball Game Court, near 1000 AD. Confirming this hypothesis would assure that the hugest game court of Mesoamerica was the last great work constructed in the center of Chichen Itza”, informed the archaeologist.

The wall was built, in a first stage, during the first half of the 10th century of the Common Era; its 3 stages were constructed in a 100-years period, probably as part of important ritual or politic changes, such as a new ruler’s enthronization. The architectural style differentiates them.

Subsequent modifications took place towards the late 10th or early 11th centuries. The first one is related to a fine and stylized wall constructed with material especially cut and prepared for this purpose, which was covered with a thick colored stucco layer.

The second stage presents modifications: Accesses and stairways were added, and remaining of attached structures can be observed, probably built with defensive purposes. The constructive technique is coarser and crude.

The last phase includes spare carved stone and bas-reliefs in some parts of the external wall. The random distribution indicates they were part of dismantled buildings used to reinforce the exterior, declared Canto Carrillo.

Defensive and Social Barrier

“By the way it was constructed and distributed, the wall was not only for defensive purposes; it also avoided that common people entered the center of the city. There are rests of walkways outside it, and it had several accesses”, declared the specialist.

Those who used and inhabited the buildings of the Great Leveling could have had interacted with the rest of the population by using several roadways or Sacbeob, as well as the accesses that break the continuity of the wall, concluded archaeologist Canto.

Source – INAH.

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