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Definition: Chichén Itzá from Merriam-Webster's Geographical Dictionary

Village in Yucatán state, Mexico, ab. 20 mi. (32 km.) W of Valladolid; once one of the principal centers of the Mayas; extensive ruins and well-preserved temples, pyramids, and towers, rich with sculptures; built around “cenotes” (natural wells); numerous artifacts, as well as evidence of human sacrifice, recovered in modern times.


Summary Article: Chichén Itzá
From The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Toltec city situated among the Maya city-states of the Yucatán peninsula, Mexico. Built on the site of an earlier Maya settlement, the city was at its height from around AD 980 to 1220 (the Classic and Post-Classic periods), after Toltec peoples from central Mexico settled here. Ruins of many important buildings remain from this time. These include a great pyramid (Castillo), temples with sculptures and colour reliefs, an observatory, and a sacred well (cenote), into which sacrifices, including human beings, were thrown.

Chichén Itzáis thought to have been founded by the Putún Maya from the coastal region of the Gulf of Mexico in around 850. When the Toltecs took over the site, they modelled many of the buildings on those of their former capital at Tula. Toltec rule ended when the city fell to Hunac Ceel, ruler of the neighbouring city-state of Mayapán, in 1221. By the time of the Spanish conquest in the 16th century, it had long been abandoned and had fallen into ruin. The site was excavated between 1924 and 1940 by Sylvanus Griswold Morley.

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Maya Civilization – Past and Present

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Chichén Itzá

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