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The archaeological zone at Chichén Itzá is divided into two main areas, with the Late Classic site located south of the highway to Merida, and the Early Postclassic section to the north.
The Postclassic zone represents the ceremonial and market center rebuilt by Toltecs who came down from the Valley of Mexico and conquered Yucatán shortly before AD 1000. This is centered around the Castillo, a massive four-sided pyramid whose nine terraces reach 24 m in elevation Beneath the Castillo is a smaller, Late Classic pyramid 16.6 m high. North of the Castillo, a sacbe or path leads to the Cenote of Sacrifice. The Ballcourt, 146 by 37 m, is the largest in Mesoamerica with walls 8 m high, covered with reliefs of ballplayers representing Lords of the Underworld. Small temples are at both ends of the Ballcourt. At its southeast end is the rectangular Temple of the Jaguars, built in two phases, the later with a procession of jaguars carved on its facade like those on the Temple of Quetzalcoatl (Pyramid B) at Tula.Just east of the Ballcourt is platform of the Tzompantli (“rack of trophy skulls”) where sacrifices were made to the fire god with displays of skulls of sacrificed victims. The small Platform of the Eagles is decorated with carved serpent heads on the stairwells, and other typical Toltec motifs of jaguars and eagles devouring human hearts .
[Fig.1: Plan of the northern, Postclassic zone at Chichén Itzá (after Ruppert 1953).]
East of the Grand Plaza is the imposing Temple of the Warriors, similar in design to the Temple of Quetzalcoatl at Tula. Constructed in four tiers 39.5 m across, the sides are decorated with relief carvings of ballplayers, and jaguars and eagles holding human hearts. The pyramid was approached through a large colonnaded building once covered with a beam and mortar roof. Excavations within the Temple of the Warriors found an earlier structure called the Temple of Chacmool, similar in plan to the later temple on the Castillo. To the south of the Temple of the Warriors is the 4.5 acre Court of the Thousand Columns, adjoining the market and a smaller ballcourt on the south.
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