Mexico I: Chichen Itza

Program Information

Series: A Moment in Time
Duration: 00:03:38
Year Produced: 2010
Description:

The ancient Mayan civilization was indigenous to present day Central America and southern Mexico. Its chief city for nearly a millennium and a major Mayan archeological site is located on the Yucatan Peninsula--it is Chichen Itza.

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Transcript

Lead: The ancient Mayan civilization was indigenous to present day Central America and southern Mexico. Its chief city for nearly a millennium and a major Mayan archeological site is located on the Yucatan Peninsula--it is Chichen Itza.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: It is believed that Mayan culture existed in Mesoamerica from about 2600 B.C.E. Spread throughout northern Central America and southern Mexico, the Maya were a highly developed civilization with advanced understanding of astronomy, mathematics, agriculture and architecture. They developed a sophisticated form of hieroglyphic writing and maintained accurate yearly calendars.

During the so-called classic period, 250 to 900 C.E., the Mayan kingdom was highly structured and many cities were established, each with a single ruler. For reasons that are not completely clear, the southern lowland Mayan cities were abandoned, and many Maya migrated to the highlands of present day southern Guatemala and to the Yucatan Peninsula. In the arid climate of central Yucatan, a clan or group of Mayans who were called the “Itza” founded a settlement by two large natural wells sometime in the 500s C.E. The city of Chichen Itza--or “mouth of the wells of the Itza”--became the power center of Mayan civilization.

It is believed that Chichen Itza--with its pyramids, observatory and massive ball court--was heavily influenced in design by the Toltec of Central Mexico, who either integrated with or dominated the Maya beginning in the 11th century. By the mid 1500s, Chichen Itza as well as most of the Mayan settlements had been conquered by the Spanish, thus beginning the decline and near extinction of Mayan civilization.

Research by Ann Johnson, at the University of Richmond, this is Dan Roberts.