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Chichén Itzá:  The Caracol

Located in the Late Classic zone of Chichén Itzá, the Caracol (Spanish for "snail" ) is a round Early Postclassic tower placed on series of Late Classic platforms. Within the 16.7 m-diameter tower was a spiral staircase (another meaning of "caracol"), and four doorways aligned with the cardinal directions. The upper observatory room had seven openings, some of which align with the equinoxes and the southernmost transit of the planet Venus. The tower's round form may be associated with the Mexican wind god Ehecatl, as well as the Postclassic site patron Kukulcan. Beneath the Late Classic platforms are remains of sweatbaths and other earlier structures.

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[Fig.1: The Caracol at Chichén Itzá, viewed from the north (photo: Athena Review).]


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