Chichen Itza

The Ossario

The High Priest's Tomb

Image description

Located in the southern portion of the archaeological zone, The Ossuary, or Tomb of the High Priest, is similar in design to the much larger El Castillo.

Like El Castillo, the Ossuary employs the "snake mountain" motif. It has seven levels instead of the nine of its larger counterpart.

Shortly before the end of the 19th century, Edward H. Thompson explored the pyramid. He discovered the entrance to a shaft at the top of the pyramid that led to a series of cascading tombs, six in all, containing human skeletons and funerary urns. In the bottom tomb, at groundlevel, Thompson discovered a stairway that led into an bottle-shaped cavern carved underneath the pyramid. Additional excavations uncovered the entrance to a massive cave underneath that contained more skeletal remains and funerary objects.

When Thompson explored the pyramid, it appeared to be little more than a mound of rubble. Only recently did INAH restore the pyramid.

-- Chris Reeves/E.J. Albright