What we see is not always what we expect, whether from nature or man-made. This is often true with archaeological remains of cities or human settlement, when new discoveries shed unexpected light on old finds, leaving question marks in their wake. So, let’s have a look at Chichén Itzá, the great Maya city in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, a place we thought had been thoroughly explored and visited many times. But yet what about Chichén Itzá’s shadows that are cast on the ancient citadel during the course of the year?
At the vernal and autumnal equinoxes, as it moves from east to west, sun light plays with the angles of the northeast stairway of the Kukulcán pyramid, called El Castillo in Spanish. The course of the sun projects the shadows of the corners of the pyramid onto the vertical northeast face of the stairway balustrade, giving the visual impression that the body of an undulating serpent slowly crawls down toward its stone head at the bottom.
Thousands of tourists gather on the Grand Plaza to witness the event. They come to share in a communal spirit that transcends time and culture. In our times of extraordinary changes in science and technology, unimaginable only fifty years ago, people search for mythical answers to clear, or not so clear, contradictions in their swiftly moving world.