Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The cruise: Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza is one of the best known Mayan ruin sites. It's a 2 hour ride from Progresso (Mexico), our second port of call. So we spent 4 hours on the bus and only about 2 hours in Chichen Itza. But even if I had spent several days there, I wouldn't have more to say about it than Wikipedia has. :-) So what can I say that others haven't? I can only speak about my own clumsy attempts to grasp the greatness of this historical site.

As expected, the tour guide barraged us with information, much of it pertaining to the stone carvings on the walls of the Mayan ritual ball game court. I might have digested it better, had I a bit more time to tune my eye to the ancient Mayans' rather liberal interpretation of human anatomy. The carvings on the wall of the ball game court tell stories of human sacrifices performed at the ball game. Or they would, if you could make out actual human figures in those pictures. You can see a semblance of a face here or there, but mostly the carvings look like abstract ornaments. Yet to our guide they were clear as day. Here a priest holds a knife over a kneeling victim, he said. And over there he holds a severed head. And here is blood gushing forth from the victim's neck. Actually, I think I got a picture of the gushing blood. It's here. And I think I was able to make out a severed head in this picture, although it was hidden really well. :-)

Regardless, Steve and I were left confused about some important aspects of human sacrifice. We could not agree if the guide said ancient Mayans sacrificed a player from the losing or the winning team. I thought it was logical to assume that a member of the losing team was sacrificed. However, Steve thought that since being sacrificed to the gods was a great honor, that honor fell to one of the winners!

No comments: