Chichén Itzá(redirected from Caracol observatory)
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See studies by D. Ediger (1971) and M. Cohodas (1978).
a political and cultural center of the Maya, located in the northern part of the Yucatán peninsula, in Mexico. Chichén Itzá was probably founded in the eighth century A.D. Captured by the Toltecs in the tenth century, it became the capital of the Toltec empire in the mid-11th century. In 1178 it was destroyed by the forces of three city-states—Mayapán, Uxmal, and Izamal. By the time of the Spanish conquest (mid-16th century), Chichén Itzá was in ruins.
Numerous excavations conducted at Chichén Itzá led to the discovery of large Maya-Toltec architectural monuments, including the Temple of Kukulcán, a pyramid with nine stages (24 m high) and a wide stairway on each of the four sides, the Temple of the Warriors, atop a low pyramid (four stages), and the Temple of the Jaguars; the last two were decorated with wall paintings. Also discovered were the Caracol observatory, seven ball courts, and the ruins of four colonnades forming a gigantic rectangle (the Thousand Columns). Stylized statues of deities, reliefs rich in floral and geometric ornamentation, small sculptures, and artistic hand-crafted works were unearthed.