Yucatan Buys Chichen Itza for $220M

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By Evan J. Albright

After 500 years of private ownership, Chichen Itza is now the property of the state of Yucatan. What took so long?

With the quick sweep of a pen, Mexico's state of Yucatan purchased the central archaeological zone of Chichen Itza, a UNESCO heritage site and Wonder of the World.

Unknown to the millions of tourists around the world who visit the site each year, Chichen Itza has been privately owned for the past 500 years. On March 29, 2010, Hans Jurgen Thies Barbachano, owner of the property upon which some of the world's most recognizable monuments rest, agreed to sell his interest in Chichen Itza to the state of Yucatan for $220 million Mexican ($17.6 million US).

The transaction ends more than a decade of controversy between the property's owners, the state and federal governments, and various stakeholder groups, all of which have been vying for control of the restored ancient city.

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The true story of what happens when a gringo ventures into Mayaland to get the straight dope about the end of the world ...

This fall, Hollywood gave us a vision of the end of the world as supposedly predicted by the Maya. But did they really?

On December 21, 2012, the Maya Long Count Calendar will end a cycle of more than 5,000 years, and according to Hollywood, it means nothing less than the total destruction of the world. In the movie "2012," the earth's core gets cooked by neutrinos, and then dispatches volcanoes and tidal waves to wipe out mankind.

Did the Maya actually predict the end of the world? For years experts in the ancient Maya have pooh-poohed the concept that the people of Mesoamerica ever believed that the end of their calendar meant the apocalypse. But one of their books, the Chilam Balam contains lengthy descriptions of the end of the world.

Was there any connection to this view of the end of the time and the conclusion of the Maya calendar? I went to Yucatan in search of answers and came away with the following story:


Feature Article

The Casa Colorada Ball Court

Turning Mounds into Monuments

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A Site Report by Dr. Steven Fry

Some of the oldest structures in the Chichen Itza archaeological zone can be found in the Casa Colorada group. For the past few weeks a team of archaeologists and workers from Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), under the direction of Jose Francisco Osorio Leon, have been excavating several of the buildings, looking for clues that they hope will provide them with answers as to the early settlement of the ancient city.

Adjoining the main building of the group is a ball court which until very recently was in ruins. This is the focus of study by INAH archaeologists.

Last week Dr. Steven Fry visited Chichen Itza in the company of Dr. Peter Schmidt of INAH. Click HERE to read a report of his visit»

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