Chichen Itza

Akab D'zib

House of Mysterious Writing?

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Despite its simplicity and lack of design, Akab D'zib--"The House of Mysterious Writing"--is one of the least understood and most intriguing of the buildings at Chichen Itza.

Unlike many other buildings within the archaeological zone, Akab D'zib is built on ground level. It is relatively short, only 6 meters high. It is more than 50 meters in length and 15 meters wide. The long western-facing facade seen above has seven doorways. The eastern facade has only four doorways, broken by a large staircase that leads to the roof. This apparently was the front of the structure, but it looks out over what is today a steep, but dry, cenote.

One of its great mysteries is the southern end of the building which as one entrance. The door opens into a small chamber and on the opposite wall is another doorway, above which on the lintel are intricately carved glyphs (below).

These glyphs have yet to be translated. Under the lintel in the doorjam is another carved panel, showing a seated figure surrounded by more glyphs (below). Local legend has it that this building belongs to the aluxes, Maya fairy folk that cause mischief much like the leprechauns of Ireland. At midnight, the story goes, these glyphs begin to glow.