The Maya civilization was a Mesoamerican civilization developed by the Maya peoples, noted for its logosyllabic script—the most sophisticated and developed writing system in pre-Columbian Americas—as well as for its art, mathematics and astronomical system. The Maya civilization developed in an area that encompasses southeastern Mexico, all of Guatemala and Belize, the western portions of Honduras and El Salvador; this region consists of the northern lowlands encompassing the Yucatán Peninsula, the highlands of the Sierra Madre, running from the Mexican state of Chiapas, across southern Guatemala and onwards into El Salvador, the southern lowlands of the Pacific littoral plain. The Archaic period, prior to 2000 BC, saw the first developments in agriculture and the earliest villages; the Preclassic period saw the establishment of the first complex societies in the Maya region, the cultivation of the staple crops of the Maya diet, including maize, beans and chili peppers. The first Maya cities developed around 750 BC, by 500 BC these cities possessed monumental architecture, including large temples with elaborate stucco façades.
Hieroglyphic writing was being used in the Maya region by the 3rd century BC. In the Late Preclassic a number of large cities developed in the Petén Basin, the city of Kaminaljuyu rose to prominence in the Guatemalan Highlands. Beginning around 250 AD, the Classic period is defined as when the Maya were raising sculpted monuments with Long Count dates; this period saw the Maya civilization develop a large number of city-states linked by a complex trade network. In the Maya Lowlands two great rivals, the cities of Tikal and Calakmul, became powerful; the Classic period saw the intrusive intervention of the central Mexican city of Teotihuacan in Maya dynastic politics. In the 9th century, there was a widespread political collapse in the central Maya region, resulting in internecine warfare, the abandonment of cities, a northward shift of population; the Postclassic period saw the rise of Chichen Itza in the north, the expansion of the aggressive Kʼicheʼ kingdom in the Guatemalan Highlands. In the 16th century, the Spanish Empire colonized the Mesoamerican region, a lengthy series of campaigns saw the fall of Nojpetén, the last Maya city, in 1697.
Classic period rule was centred on the concept of the "divine king", who acted as a mediator between mortals and the supernatural realm. Kingship was patrilineal, power would pass to the eldest son. A prospective king was expected to be a successful war leader. Maya politics was dominated by a closed system of patronage, although the exact political make-up of a kingdom varied from city-state to city-state. By the Late Classic, the aristocracy had increased, resulting in the corresponding reduction in the exclusive power of the divine king; the Maya civilization developed sophisticated artforms, the Maya created art using both perishable and non-perishable materials, including wood, obsidian, sculpted stone monuments and finely painted murals. Maya cities tended to expand haphazardly, the city centre would be occupied by ceremonial and administrative complexes, surrounded by an irregular sprawl of residential districts. Different parts of a city would be linked by causeways; the principal architecture of the city consisted of palaces, pyramid-temples, ceremonial ballcourts, structures aligned for astronomical observation.
The Maya elite were literate, developed a complex system of hieroglyphic writing, the most advanced in the pre-Columbian Americas. The Maya recorded their history and ritual knowledge in screenfold books, of which only three uncontested examples remain, the rest having been destroyed by the Spanish. There are a great many examples of Maya text found on stelae and ceramics; the Maya developed a complex series of interlocking ritual calendars, employed mathematics that included one of the earliest instances of the explicit zero in the world. As a part of their religion, the Maya practised human sacrifice; the Maya civilization developed within the Mesoamerican cultural area, which covers a region that spreads from northern Mexico southwards into Central America. Mesoamerica was one of six cradles of civilization worldwide; the Mesoamerican area gave rise to a series of cultural developments that included complex societies, cities, monumental architecture and calendrical systems. The set of traits shared by Mesoamerican cultures included astronomical knowledge and human sacrifice, a cosmovision that viewed the world as divided into four divisions aligned with the cardinal directions, each with different attributes, a three-way division of the world into the celestial realm, the earth, the underworld.
By 6000 BC, the early inhabitants of Mesoamerica were experimenting with the domestication of plants, a process that led to the establishment of sedentary agricultural societies. The diverse climate allowed for wide variation in available crops, but all regions of Mesoamerica cultivated the base crops of maize and squashes. All Mesoamerican cultures used Stone Age technology. Mesoamerica lacked draft animals, did not use the wheel, possessed few domesticated animals. Mesoamericans viewed the world as hostile and governed by unpredictable deities; the ritual Mesoamerican ballgame was played. Mesoamerica is linguistically diverse, with most languages falling within a small number of language families—the major families are Mayan, Mixe–Zoquean and Uto-Aztecan.
E-Groups are unique architectural complexes found among a number of ancient Maya settlements. They are central components to the settlement organization of Maya sites and could have served as astronomical observatories; the alignment of these structural complexes corresponds to the sun's solstices and equinoxes. E-Groups are named after “Group E” at the Classic period site of Uaxactun, the first one documented by Mesoamerican archaeologists. At Uaxactun, the Group E complex consists of a long terraced platform with three supra-structures arranged along a linear axis oriented north-south; the two smaller outlying structures flank the larger central temple. A stairway leads down to a plaza formed by Uaxacatun's Pyramid E-VII. Three stele front the E-Group, a larger stele is located midway between Group E and Pyramid E-VII; each of the four stairways incorporated into the complex bears two side masks. From a point of observation on Pyramid E-VII, the three structures have the following orientation: North structure – in line with the sunrise at the Summer solstice South structure – in line with the sunrise at the Winter solstice Central structure – in line with the sunrise at the equinoxes E-Group structures are found at a number of sites across the Maya area in the lowlands region.
The oldest-known E-Groups coincide with the earliest Maya ceremonial sites of the Preclassic period, indicative of the central role played by astronomical and administrative concerns in the beginnings of Maya ceremonial construction and planning. The oldest documented E-Group is found at the site of Seibal. Construction of E-groups continues on through the Classic period, with examples of these including the Lost World Pyramid at Tikal in the Petén Basin of northern Guatemala, Structure 5C-2nd at Cerros, in Belize. Caracol in Belize and the site that defeated Tikal during the Middle Classic, has a large-scale E-Group located in the western portion of its central core
Maya stelae are monuments that were fashioned by the Maya civilization of ancient Mesoamerica. They consist of tall, sculpted stone shafts and are associated with low circular stones referred to as altars, although their actual function is uncertain. Many stelae were sculpted in low relief, although plain monuments are found throughout the Maya region; the sculpting of these monuments spread throughout the Maya area during the Classic Period, these pairings of sculpted stelae and circular altars are considered a hallmark of Classic Maya civilization. The earliest dated stela to have been found in situ in the Maya lowlands was recovered from the great city of Tikal in Guatemala. During the Classic Period every Maya kingdom in the southern lowlands raised stelae in its ceremonial centre. Stelae became associated with the concept of divine kingship and declined at the same time as this institution; the production of stelae by the Maya had its origin around 400 BC and continued through to the end of the Classic Period, around 900, although some monuments were reused in the Postclassic.
The major city of Calakmul in Mexico raised the greatest number of stelae known from any Maya city, at least 166, although they are poorly preserved. Hundreds of stelae have been recorded in the Maya region. Many are upright slabs of limestone sculpted on one or more faces, with available surfaces sculpted with figures carved in relief and with hieroglyphic text. Stelae in a few sites display a much more three-dimensional appearance where locally available stone permits, such as at Copán and Toniná. Plain stelae do not appear to have been painted nor overlaid with stucco decoration, but most Maya stelae were brightly painted in red, black and other colours. Stelae were stone banners raised to glorify the king and record his deeds, although the earliest examples depict mythological scenes. Imagery developed throughout the Classic Period, with Early Classic stelae displaying non-Maya characteristics from the 4th century onwards, with the introduction of imagery linked to the central Mexican metropolis of Teotihuacan.
This influence receded in the 5th century although some minor Teotihuacan references continued to be used. In the late 5th century, Maya kings began to use stelae to mark the end of calendrical cycles. In the Late Classic, imagery linked to the Mesoamerican ballgame was introduced, once again displaying influence from central Mexico. By the Terminal Classic, the institution of divine kingship declined, Maya kings began to be depicted with their subordinate lords; as the Classic Period came to an end, stelae ceased to be erected, with the last known examples being raised in 909–910. The function of the Maya stela was central to the ideology of Maya kingship from the beginning of the Classic Period through to the end of the Terminal Classic; the hieroglyphic inscriptions on the stelae of the Classic period site of Piedras Negras played a key part in the decipherment of the script, with stelae being grouped around seven different structures and each group appearing to chart the life of a particular individual, with key dates being celebrated, such as birth and military victories.
From these stelae, epigrapher Tatiana Proskouriakoff was able to identify that they contained details of royal rulers and their associates, rather than priests and gods as had been theorised. Epigrapher David Stuart first proposed that the Maya regarded their stelae as te tun, "stone trees", although he revised his reading to lakamtun, meaning "banner stone", from lakam meaning "banner" in several Mayan languages and tun meaning "stone". According to Stuart this may refer to the stelae as stone versions of vertical standards that once stood in prominent places in Maya city centres, as depicted in ancient Maya graffiti; the name of the modern Lacandon Maya is to be a Colonial corruption of this word. Maya stelae were arranged to impress the viewer, forming lines or other arrangements within the ceremonial centre of the city. Maya cities with a history of stonecarving that extended back into the Early Classic preferred to pair their stelae with a circular altar, which may have represented a cut tree trunk and have been used to perform human sacrifice, given the prevalence of sacrificial imagery on such monuments.
An alternative interpretation of these "altars" is that they were in fact thrones that were used by rulers during ceremonial events. Archaeologists believe that they also served as ritual pedestals for incense burners, ceremonial fires and other offerings; the core purpose of a stela was to glorify the king. Many Maya stelae depict only the king of the city, describe his actions with hieroglyphic script; when the individual depicted is not the king himself, the text or scene relates the subject to the king. Declaring the importance and power of the king to the community, the stela portrayed his wealth and ancestry, depicted him wielding the symbols of military and divine power. Stelae were raised to commemorate important events at the end of a kʼatun 20-year cycle of the Maya calendar, or to mark a quarter or a half kʼatun; the stela did not just mark off a period of time. The hieroglyphic texts on the stelae describe how some of the calendrical ceremonies required the king to perform ritual dance and bloodletting.
At Tikal, the twin pyramid groups were built to celebrate the kʼatun ending and reflected Maya cosmology. These groups possessed pyramids on the east and west sides that represented the birth and death of the sun. On the south side, a nine-doored building
Teotihuacan, is an ancient Mesoamerican city located in a sub-valley of the Valley of Mexico, located in the State of Mexico 40 kilometres northeast of modern-day Mexico City, known today as the site of many of the most architecturally significant Mesoamerican pyramids built in the pre-Columbian Americas. After the collapse of Teotihuacan central Mexico was dominated by the Toltecs of Tula until about AD 1150. At its zenith in the first half of the 1st millennium CE, Teotihuacan was the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas, with a population estimated at 125,000 or more, making it at least the sixth largest city in the world during its epoch; the city covered 8 square miles. Apart from the pyramids, Teotihuacan is anthropologically significant for its complex, multi-family residential compounds, the Avenue of the Dead, its vibrant murals that have been well-preserved. Additionally, Teotihuacan exported fine obsidian tools; the city is thought to have been established around 100 BCE, with major monuments continuously under construction until about 250 CE.
The city may have lasted until sometime between the 7th and 8th centuries CE, but its major monuments were sacked and systematically burned around 550 CE. Teotihuacan began as a religious center in the Mexican Highlands around the first century CE, it became the largest and most populated center in the pre-Columbian Americas. Teotihuacan was home to multi-floor apartment compounds built to accommodate the large population; the term Teotihuacan is used for the whole civilization and cultural complex associated with the site. Although it is a subject of debate whether Teotihuacan was the center of a state empire, its influence throughout Mesoamerica is well documented; the Aztecs saw these magnificent ruins and claimed a common ancestry with the Teotihuacanos and adopting aspects of their culture. The ethnicity of the inhabitants of Teotihuacan is the subject of debate. Possible candidates are the Otomi or Totonac ethnic groups. Scholars have suggested; the city and the archaeological site are located in what is now the San Juan Teotihuacán municipality in the State of México 40 kilometres northeast of Mexico City.
The site covers a total surface area of 83 square kilometres and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. It is the most visited archaeological site in Mexico, receiving 4,185,017 visitors in 2017; the name Teōtīhuacān was given by the Nahuatl-speaking Aztecs centuries after the fall of the city around 550 CE. The term has been glossed as "birthplace of the gods", or "place where gods were born", reflecting Nahua creation myths that were said to occur in Teotihuacan. Nahuatl scholar Thelma D. Sullivan interprets the name as "place of those who have the road of the gods." This is. The name is pronounced with the accent on the syllable wa. By normal Nahuatl orthographic conventions, a written accent would not appear in that position. Both this pronunciation and Spanish pronunciation: are used, both spellings appear in this article; the original name of the city is unknown, but it appears in hieroglyphic texts from the Maya region as puh, or "Place of Reeds". This suggests that, in the Maya civilization of the Classic period, Teotihuacan was understood as a Place of Reeds similar to other Postclassic Central Mexican settlements that took the name of Tollan, such as Tula-Hidalgo and Cholula.
This naming convention led to much confusion in the early 20th century, as scholars debated whether Teotihuacan or Tula-Hidalgo was the Tollan described by 16th-century chronicles. It now seems clear that Tollan may be understood as a generic Nahua term applied to any large settlement. In the Mesoamerican concept of urbanism and other language equivalents serve as a metaphor, linking the bundles of reeds and rushes that formed part of the lacustrine environment of the Valley of Mexico and the large gathering of people in a city; the early history of Teotihuacan is quite mysterious and the origin of its founders is uncertain. Around 300 BCE, people of the central and southeastern area of Mesoamerica began to gather into larger settlements. Teotihuacan was the largest urban center of Mesoamerica before the Aztecs 1000 years prior to their epoch; the city was in ruins by the time of the Aztecs. For many years, archaeologists believed; this belief was based on colonial period texts, such as the Florentine Codex, which attributed the site to the Toltecs.
However, the Nahuatl word "Toltec" means "craftsman of the highest level" and may not always refer to the Toltec civilization centered at Tula, Hidalgo. Since Toltec civilization flourished centuries after Teotihuacan, the people could not have been the city's founders. In the Late Formative era, a number of urban centers arose in central Mexico; the most prominent of these appears to have been Cuicuilco, on the southern shore of Lake Texcoco. Scholars have speculated that the eruption of the Xitle volcano may have prompted a mass emigration out of the central valley and into the Teotihuacan valley; these settlers may have accelerated the growth of Teotihuacan. Other scholars have put forth the Totonac people as the founders of Teotihuacan. There is evidence that at least some of the people living in Teotihuacan immigrated from
Ancient Maya art
Ancient Maya art refers to the material arts of the Maya civilization, an eastern and south-eastern Mesoamerican culture that took shape in the course of the Preclassic Period. Its greatest artistic flowering occurred during the seven centuries of the Classic Period. Ancient Maya art went through an extended Post-Classic phase before the upheavals of the sixteenth century destroyed courtly culture and put an end to the Mayan artistic tradition. Many regional styles existed. Olmecs and Toltecs have all influenced Maya art. Traditional art forms have survived in weaving and the design of peasant houses. Following the nineteenth and early-twentieth century publications on Maya art and archaeology by Stephens, Maudslay and Charnay that for the first time made available reliable drawings and photographs of major Classic Maya monuments, the 1913 publication of Herbert Spinden´s'A Study of Maya Art' - now over a century ago - laid the foundation for all developments of Maya art history; the book gives an analytical treatment of themes and motifs the ubiquitous serpent and dragon motifs, a review of the ´material arts´, such as the composition of temple facades, roof combs and mask panels.
Spinden's chronological treatment of Maya art was refined by the motif analysis of the architect and specialist in archaeological drawing, Tatiana Proskouriakoff, in her book'A Study of Classic Maya Sculpture'. Kubler's 1969 inventory of Maya iconography, containing a site-by-site treatment of'commemorative' images and a topical treatment of ritual and mythical images, concluded a period of gradual increase of knowledge, soon to be overshadowed by new developments. Starting in the early 1970s, the historiography of the Mayan kingdoms - first of all Palenque - came to occupy the forefront. Art-historical interpretation joined the historical approach pioneered by Proskouriakoff as well as the mythological approach initiated by M. D. Coe, with a professor of art, Linda Schele, serving as a driving force. Schele's seminal interpretations of Maya art are found throughout her work in The Blood of Kings, written together with art historian M. Miller. Maya art history was spurred by the enormous increase in sculptural and ceramic imagery, due to extensive archaeological excavations, as well as to organized looting on an unprecedented scale.
On from 1973, M. D. Coe published a series of books offering pictures and interpretations of unknown Maya vases, with the Popol Vuh Twin myth for an explanatory model. In 1981, Robicsek and Hales added an inventory and classification of Maya vases painted in codex style, thereby revealing more of a hitherto known spiritual world; as to subsequent developments, important issues in Schele's iconographic work have been elaborated by Karl Taube. New approaches to Maya art include studies of ancient Maya ceramic workshops, the representation of bodily experience and the senses in Maya art, of hieroglyphs considered as iconographic units. Meanwhile, the number of monographs devoted to the monumental art of specific courts is growing. A good impression of recent Mexican and North American art historical scholarship can be gathered from the exhibition catalogue'Courtly Art of the Ancient Maya'; the layout of the Maya towns and cities, more of the ceremonial centers where the royal families and courtiers resided, is characterized by the rhythm of immense horizontal stucco floors of plazas located at various levels, connected by broad and steep stairs, surmounted by temple pyramids.
Under successive reigns, the main buildings were enlarged by adding new layers of fill and stucco coating. Irrigation channels and drains made up the hydraulic infrastructure. Outside the ceremonial center were the structures of lesser nobles, smaller temples, individual shrines, surrounded by the wards of the commoners. Dam-like causeways spread from the'ceremonial centers' to other nuclei of habitation. Fitting in with the concept of a'theatre state', more attention appears to have been given to aesthetics than to solidity of construction. Careful attention, was placed on directional orientation. Among the various types of structures should be mentioned: Ceremonial platforms. Courtyards and palaces. Other residential buildings, such as a writers' house and a possible council house in Copan. Temples and temple pyramids, the latter containing burials in their base or fill, with sanctuaries on top; the outstanding example are the many clustered dynastic burial temples of Tikal's North Acropolis. Ball courts.
Among the structural ensembles are:'Triadic pyramids' consisting of a dominant structure flanked by two smaller inward-facing buildings, all mounted upon a single basal platform. In the palaces and temple rooms, the'corbelled vault' was applied. Though not an effective means to increase interior space, as it required thick stone walls to support the high ceiling, some temples utilized repeated arches, or a corbelled vault, to construct an inner sanc
Ancient Maya cuisine was varied and extensive. Many different types of resources were consumed, including maritime and faunal material, food was obtained or produced through a host of strategies, such as hunting and large-scale agricultural production. Plant domestication focused on several core foods, the most important of, maize. Much of the Maya food supply was grown in agricultural fields and forest gardens, known as pet kot; the system takes its name from the low wall of stones. The Maya adopted a number of adaptive techniques that, if necessary, allowed for the clear-cutting of land and re-infused the soil with nutrients. Among these was slash-and-burn, or swidden, agriculture, a technique that cleared and temporarily fertilized the area. For example, the introduction of ash into the soil raises the soil's pH, which in turn raises the content of a variety of nutrients phosphorus, for a short period of time of around two years. However, the soil will not remain suitable for planting for as many as ten years.
This technique, common throughout the Maya area, is still practiced today in the Maya region. Complementing swidden techniques were crop rotation and farming, employed to maintain soil viability and increase the variety of crops. To understand how and in what quantities food resources were relied upon by the Ancient Maya, stable isotopic analysis has been utilized; this method allows for the stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes to be chemically extracted from animal and human skeletal remains. These elements are run through a mass spectrometer and the values display the enrichment of maize and the extent of aquatic resources in an individual's diet. Paleoethnobotanical studies consist of the examination of micro and macro plant remains found within measured units of soil taken from an archaeological context. Macro-remains are separated from the soil through a flotation process while microremains are chemically extracted from the flotation samples; the earliest archaeological plant remains within the Maya region are from Cuello and predate Preclassic sites.
The majority of plant remains fall within the Preclassic-Postclassic and allow for researchers to discuss subsistence patterns that revolve around domesticated and wild/partially cultivated plants. Information for the Classic period, the most studied period for the Maya, come from the sites of Cobá, Cerén, Dos Pilas, Wild Cane Cay, Copán, Río Azul; this range of sites allows for insight into regional differences based on the environment and access to local resources, such as aquatic and marine life. Maya diet focused on four domesticated crops: maize, squash and chili peppers; the first three cultivars are referred to in North America as the "Three Sisters" and, when incorporated in a diet, complement one another in providing necessary nutrients. Among the three, maize was the central component of the diet of the ancient Maya, figured prominently in Maya mythology and ideology. Archaeological evidence suggest that Chapalote-Nal-Tel was the dominant species, however it is others were being exploited also.
Maize was always nixtamalized. Nixtamalization is a procedure in which maize is cooked in an alkaline solution; this releases niacin, a necessary B vitamin that prevents pellagra and reduces incidents of protein deficiency. Once nixtamalized, maize was ground up on a metate and prepared in a number of ways. Tortillas, cooked on a comal and used to wrap other foods, were common and are the best-known pre-Columbian Mesoamerican food. Tamales consist of corn dough containing a filling, that are wrapped in a corn husk and steam-cooked. Both atole and pozole were liquid-based gruel-like dishes that were made by mixing ground maize with water, with atole being denser and used as a drinking source and pozole having complete big grains of maize incorporated into a turkey broth. Though these dishes could be consumed plain, other ingredients were added to diversify flavor, including chili peppers, wild onions and salt. Along with maize, beans—both domestic and wild—and squash were relied on as evident from the remains at Ceren, El Salvador, the Mesoamerican Pompeii.
An alternative view is that manioc cassava was the grown staple crop of the Maya and that maize was revered because it was prestigious and harder to grow. This proposal was based on the inability of maize to meet the nutritional needs of densely populated Maya areas. Manioc can meet those needs; because tuberous manioc survives in the archaeological record, evidence for this view has been lacking, although recent finds in volcanic ash at the southern Maya site of Joya de Cerén in El Salvador may be such evidence. Several different varieties of beans were grown, including pinto and black beans; the ancient Maya relied on tree cropping for access to foods such as tomato, chili peppers, breadnut, soursop, mammee apple, pineapple, sweet potato, Xanthosoma. Chaya was cultivated for its green leaves. Chayote was cultivated for its fruit, its tender green shoots were used as a vegetable. Various herbs were grown and used, including vanilla, achiote, Hoja santa, avocado leaves, garlic vine, Mexican oregano, allspice.
While paleoethnobotanical remains demonstrate these crops were relied on in some form by all Maya groups, it is clear that different subsistence strategies were relied on. For instance some fields
Chichen Itza was a large pre-Columbian city built by the Maya people of the Terminal Classic period. The archaeological site is located in Yucatán State, Mexico. Chichen Itza was a major focal point in the Northern Maya Lowlands from the Late Classic through the Terminal Classic and into the early portion of the Postclassic period; the site exhibits a multitude of architectural styles, reminiscent of styles seen in central Mexico and of the Puuc and Chenes styles of the Northern Maya lowlands. The presence of central Mexican styles was once thought to have been representative of direct migration or conquest from central Mexico, but most contemporary interpretations view the presence of these non-Maya styles more as the result of cultural diffusion. Chichen Itza was one of the largest Maya cities and it was to have been one of the mythical great cities, or Tollans, referred to in Mesoamerican literature; the city may have had the most diverse population in the Maya world, a factor that could have contributed to the variety of architectural styles at the site.
The ruins of Chichen Itza are federal property, the site's stewardship is maintained by Mexico's Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia. The land under the monuments had been owned until 29 March 2010, when it was purchased by the state of Yucatán. Chichen Itza is one of the most visited archaeological sites in Mexico with over 2.6 million tourists in 2017. The Maya name "Chichen Itza" means "At the mouth of the well of the Itza." This derives from chi', meaning "mouth" or "edge," and chʼen or chʼeʼen, meaning "well." Itzá is the name of an ethnic-lineage group that gained political and economic dominance of the northern peninsula. One possible translation for Itza is "enchanter of the water," from its, "sorcerer," and ha, "water."The name is spelled Chichén Itzá in Spanish, the accents are sometimes maintained in other languages to show that both parts of the name are stressed on their final syllable. Other references prefer the Maya orthography, Chichen Itzaʼ; this form preserves the phonemic distinction between chʼ and ch, since the base word chʼeʼen begins with a postalveolar ejective affricate consonant.
The word "Itzaʼ" has a high tone on the "a" followed by a glottal stop. Evidence in the Chilam Balam books indicates another, earlier name for this city prior to the arrival of the Itza hegemony in northern Yucatán. While most sources agree the first word means seven, there is considerable debate as to the correct translation of the rest; this earlier name is difficult to define because of the absence of a single standard of orthography, but it is represented variously as Uuc Yabnal, Uuc Hab Nal, Uucyabnal or Uc Abnal. This name, dating to the Late Classic Period, is recorded both in the book of Chilam Balam de Chumayel and in hieroglyphic texts in the ruins. Chichen Itza is located in the eastern portion of Yucatán state in Mexico; the northern Yucatán Peninsula is arid, the rivers in the interior all run underground. There are four visible, natural sink holes, called cenotes, that could have provided plentiful water year round at Chichen, making it attractive for settlement. Of these cenotes, the "Cenote Sagrado" or Sacred Cenote, is the most famous.
In 2015, scientists determined that there is a hidden cenote under Kukulkan, which has never been seen by archaeologists. According to post-Conquest sources, pre-Columbian Maya sacrificed objects and human beings into the cenote as a form of worship to the Maya rain god Chaac. Edward Herbert Thompson dredged the Cenote Sagrado from 1904 to 1910, recovered artifacts of gold, jade and incense, as well as human remains. A study of human remains taken from the Cenote Sagrado found that they had wounds consistent with human sacrifice. Several archaeologists in the late 1980s suggested that unlike previous Maya polities of the Early Classic, Chichen Itza may not have been governed by an individual ruler or a single dynastic lineage. Instead, the city's political organization could have been structured by a "multepal" system, characterized as rulership through council composed of members of elite ruling lineages; this theory was popular in the 1990s, but in recent years, the research that supported the concept of the "multepal" system has been called into question, if not discredited.
The current belief trend in Maya scholarship is toward the more traditional model of the Maya kingdoms of the Classic Period southern lowlands in Mexico. Chichen Itza was a major economic power in the northern Maya lowlands during its apogee. Participating in the water-borne circum-peninsular trade route through its port site of Isla Cerritos on the north coast, Chichen Itza was able to obtain locally unavailable resources from distant areas such as obsidian from central Mexico and gold from southern Central America. Between AD 900 and 1050 Chichen Itza expanded to become a powerful regional capital controlling north and central Yucatán, it established Isla Cerritos as a trading port. The layout of Chichen Itza site core developed during its earlier phase of occupation, between 750 and 900 AD, its final layout was developed after 900 AD, the 10th century saw the rise of the city as a regional capital controlling the area from central Yucatán to the north coast, with its power extending down the east and west coasts of the peninsula.
The earliest hieroglyphic date discovered at Chichen Itza is equivalent to 832 AD, while the last known da