(above left) Aerial view of the sacred cenote and the sacbe leading towards the Castillo.
On March 5, 1904, the American archeologist Edward H. Thompson, began dredging the Cenote of Sacrifice at the ancient Maya city of Chichén Itzá in Yucatán, Mexico. Thompson hoped to substantiate legends describing this natural, water-filled, limestone well as a repository for the precious objects and human victims offered to the gods by the ancient Maya.
(above left) Gold monkey bell from sacred cenote.
SOLUTION CAVERN - Naturally acidic groundwater seeping through cracks in the limestone bedrock dissolves areas of softer rock lying beneath the hard surface crust. Over time, this process creates large undergound caverns roofed with only a thin layer of surface limestone.
YOUNG CENOTE -
As erosion continues, this thin roof eventually collapses, leaving an open, water-filled hole.
MATURE CENOTE -
Over thousands of years, erosion gradually fills the cenote with organic and mineral debris, reducing its depth. The Cenote of Sacrifice is currently in this stage.
DRY CENOTE -
As erosion continues, the cenote may completly fill, becoming a dry, shallow basin supporting trees and other vegetation.
It takes a long time for a cenote to form
Rain water absorbs a gas (carbon dioxide) from the air and forms a weak acid. As this trickles down through tiny cracks in the limestone, the weak acid dissolves a mineral in the limestone called calcite. Over time the limestone is dissolved and a cenote is formed.
Put three drops of water on the chalk. - What happens?
Put three drops of vinegar on the chalk. - What happens?
Chalk is made from limestone. Vinegar is a weak acid.
Try other liquids.- Did you find weak acids?
Number your rocks and print the logbook sheet.
Compare these rocks to the limestone. - Record your results.
Puuc architecture is named for the hilly Puuc region of northwestern Yucatán where this style attained its ultimate refinment. Puuc buildings have rubble-filled concrete walls faced by a thin veneer of dressed stone. The exterior walls have plain lower facades supporting upper facades decorated with long-nosed Chac masks and geometric designs. Constructed of individually carved pieces fitted together to form a design, Puuc sculpture resembles a mosaic. In Chichén Itzá the older, purely Maya buildings are in the Puuc style.
Toltec-Maya architecture combines Puuc construction methods with designs of Toltec or Central Mexican origin. Toltec elements at Chichén Itzá include stepped-pyramid temples, long colonnades, atlantean figures used as structural supports, low detached platforms faced with carved panels, and doorways formed by twin descending feathered serpent columns.