It will be on September 2nd when the President of the Republic, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, inaugurates the archaeological zone of Chichén Viejo or Initial Series, which is one of the 13 complexes located around the ceremonial center of Chichén Itzá, in Temozón, Yucatán.
Chichén Viejo or Initial Series is a space that will expand the dissemination of information about this ancient Mayan civilization in Chichén Itzá, the capital of a vast territory on the peninsula over a millennium ago.
For about 30 years, INAH (National Institute of Anthropology and History) has been working on the Mayan residential area of Initial Series in Chichén Viejo, which consists of 25 structures distributed in two plazas built on a large walled platform and is considered an intermediate-sized complex, covering approximately 14,605 square meters.
It is known to contain residential, administrative, and religious areas, and its plazas were likely used for rituals by the elites who inhabited them, including the Cupul lineage, one of the noble families of Chichén Itzá.
It features eight main structures, three platforms, and several residential complexes with six entrances, the main one shaped like a large arched vault with rounded walls. Notable areas include:
- Ballgame court
- The Temple of the Initial Series
- The Palace of the Phalluses
- The House of the Snails
- The Temple of the Owls
- The Gallery of the Monkeys
- The Turtle Platform
Maudslay, named in honor of the British archaeologist Alfred Percival Maudslay, who initiated explorations in this sector of Chichén Itzá. The Ballgame court, the Houses of the Moon and the Snails have been substantially expanded to enhance the visitor experience.
It’s worth noting that Chichén Viejo was opened to the public in 1998 when the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) authorized the initial investigations. It is recognized as a residential complex that belonged to a member of the Maya elite who paid tribute to nature, fertility, and the cosmos.
While evidence of fertility worship through various representations of the male organ is found in many archaeological sites in southeast Mexico, Chichén Viejo is the only place with a Palace of the Phalluses.
As previously reported, the visitor experience will be enriched with the opening of a Site Museum constructed during this administration as part of the Archaeological Improvement Program (Promeza) of the Federal Government.
The evidence of flat roofs in the House of the Moon, located southwest of the center of Chichén Itzá, was explored around 1895 by Edward Thompson, and a century ago, in 1923, it drew the interest of researchers from the Carnegie Institute in Washington, D.C.
However, it was the initiative of archaeologist Peter J. Schmidt in the 1990s that led to an unprecedented intervention in its buildings.
This preservation effort has provided insights into the residential complex and shed light on the social processes that shaped the metropolis, including the relationships between its center and the surrounding construction groups.
The Palace of the Stuccos, adorned with colorful stucco, demonstrated that the settlement was occupied during the Late Classic period (600-800 AD), contemporaneous with cities like Uxmal, Dzibilchaltún, Cobá, and Ek’ Balam, all competing for dominance on the peninsula. This challenges the previous chronology that placed it solely in the Terminal Classic-Early Postclassic period (800-1200 AD).
The House of the Snails is a 20-meter-long esplanade located on the west façade of Chichén Viejo, where a genealogical tree is represented. Here, a deity/founder of a lineage emerges from a stem that multiplies and gives rise to other figures.
In 2007, a burial site with human remains was discovered, presumed to be linked to the founder of the Cupul family, whose name alludes to the wild jicama or “kup” in the Mayan language. This individual instructed the creation of most of the reliefs found on the buildings of Initial Series. In one of these, this character is identified with the glyph nine Coyote.
In this location, corpses were found that appeared to have been buried together in a collective tomb, comprising six slabs covering a chamber just over two meters long. This chamber contained remains of four skulls, two jaws, and heavily damaged and burned bones, all inside a structure located in the North Plaza.
Currently, the INAH fee is 85 pesos, with additional charges by the Yucatán government varying for local, national, and foreign tourists. However, it is expected that a single fee will be introduced for this area.