Daily Archives: April 1, 2010

Mexican State of Yucatán Buys Archaeological Site of Chichen Itza from Private Landowner


The archaeological site of Chichen Itza in the Yucatan state, Mexico, 29 March 2010. Yucatan's Government announced on 30 March 2010, the purchase of 205,097 private acres of the Chichen Itza zone at a prize of 17,6 US million dollars. The sale was described as a 'historical agreement' successfully achieved by the official entity 'Cultur' in order to become this place into a patrimony of the people from Yucatan and Mexico. EPA/JACINTO KANEK

MEXICO CITY.- A historic transaction between the Government of Yucatán and businessman Hans Jurgen Thies Barbachano yesterday allowed the State to buy 83 hectares of land where the archaeological site of Chichen Itza sits for 220 million pesos (17,800,150 USD).

The negotiation, which ended two days ago with the signing of an agreement to purchase the land, began more or less a year ago between the Governor Ivonne Ortega Pacheco and Hans Jürgen Thies Barbachano, the owner, who sought the care and protection of historical monuments there to remain as heritage of the State of Yucatan.

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 Early Postclassic period. The site exhibits a multitude of architectural styles, from what is called “Mexicanized” and reminiscent of styles seen in central Mexico to the Puuc style found among the Puuc Maya of the northern lowlands. The presence of central Mexican styles was once thought to have been representative of direct migration or even conquest from central Mexico, but most contemporary interpretations view the presence of these non-Maya styles more as the result of cultural diffusion.

The site contains many fine stone buildings in various states of preservation, and many have been restored. The buildings are connected by a dense network of formerly paved roads, called sacbeob. Archaeologists have found almost 100 sacbeob criss-crossing the site, and extending in all directions from the city.

The buildings of Chichén Itza are grouped in a series of architectonic sets, and each set was at one time separated from the other by a series of low walls. The three best known of these complexes are the Great North Platform, which includes the monuments of El Castillo, Temple of Warriors and the Great Ball Court; The Ossario Group, which includes the pyramid of the same name as well as the Temple of Xtoloc; and the Central Group, which includes the Caracol, Las Monjas, and Akab Dzib.

South of Las Monjas, in an area known as Chichén Viejo (Old Chichén) and only open to archaeologists, are several other complexes, such as the Group of the Initial Series, Group of the Lintels, and Group of the Old Castle.

Chichen Itza entered the popular imagination in 1843 with the book Incidents of Travel in Yucatan by John Lloyd Stephens (with illustrations by Frederick Catherwood). The book recounted Stephens’ visit to Yucatán and his tour of Maya cities, including Chichén Itzá. The book prompted other explorations of the city. In 1860, Desire Charnay surveyed Chichén Itzá and took numerous photographs that he published in Cités et ruines américaines (1863).

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