Researchers shed light on Mayan watchtowers

10th Oct 2012

Ancient Mayas used watchtower-style structures to observe equinoxes and solstices from the temple at Chichen Itza, researchers have suggested.

Experts in Mexico found the base of the small, stone-roofed structures on the walls of the ceremonial court where a team of archaeologists had to recreate the towers to determine their use.

Government archaeologist Jose Huchim said the structures had narrow slits where the sun's rays would shine through during the winter solstice and other equinoxes.

The National Institute of Anthropology and History said the sun played a pivotal role in Maya culture, with solstices and equinoxes central to corn cultivation.

Dr Huchim said visitors to Chichen Itza would soon be able to sample the phenomenon once the stairways to the structures had been restored.

Chichen Itza is the biggest archaeological city of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. The site was granted Unesco World Heritage status in 1988 and is one of Mexico's most visited tourist hotspots.

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