Exploring the 7th Wonder of the New World
Chichén Itzá is a complex of Mayan ruins, that was constructed as the Capital of the Mayan world at about 600 A.D. The Maya civilization developed in Mesoamerica, which was one of the six original civilizations of the world, and lasted for 3,000 years. The Ancient Mayans are most commonly known for their complex and incredibly accurate calendar systems, which were created based on their advanced understanding of astronomy. The Maya Long Count Calendar, which spanned over 5,000 years, was set to reach the end of its cycle on December 21, 2012, and this was where all of the conspiracy of the end of the world in 2012 began. However, the Mayans did not predict the world's end in 2012, but instead it was merely the end of an old cycle, which would reset into the beginning of a new one.
Although the Maya people were the first to attempt to keep historical record, and their calendar is arguably the most famous Mayan invention, it wasn't the only significant one. The Mayans were the first people to create a written language in the Americas. This written language is still considered one of the most complex written languages ever created, containing over 800 hieroglyphics. The Mayans were the first people to create paper, which they made out of fig tree bark, and they were also the first culture to discover the number zero.
The Kukulkan Pyramid was constructed as a temple, and designed as a calendar. The four sides of the pyramid contain 365 total steps, which was representative of the solar year. However, each side of the pyramid contains 91 steps, which represented the number of days within each season of the annual solar cycle; this includes the winter solstice, spring equinox, summer solstice, and fall equinox. Together the steps make up 364, with the final step at the top of the pyramid making a total of 365. On the terraces, there are 52 panels that represented each year of the Mayan century, where both their religious and solar calendars would align; 52 is also the number of weeks in a solar year.
Today there are more than 6 million Maya people still living in Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize, and fortunately, are tour guide was one of them. Although his name-tag read Santos, he informed us that his Mayan name was Yah. So thank you Yah for your amazing spirit, high energy, informative, action-packed tour! It would not have been the same without you.