Monday, June 11, 2007

Virtual Tourism: Chichén Itzá

Today's Things to Do outing is a trip to virtual Mexico, commissioned by the Mexican Tourist board and opened up yesterday. The Sim's landingpoint is a platform on the New Wonders of the World election, and it's website new 7 wonders is also a good point for some basic background on the build.

Chichén Itzá, the most famous Mayan temple city, served as the political and economic center of the Mayan civilization. Its various structures - the pyramid of Kukulkan, the Temple of Chac Mool, the Hall of the Thousand Pillars, and the Playing Field of the Prisoners – can still be seen today and are demonstrative of an extraordinary commitment to architectural space and composition. The pyramid itself was the last, and arguably the greatest, of all Mayan temples.

And a great temple it is. Usually I take pictures with the time set at noon to get clear and bright images, but somehow this build made me use the sunset timing (from the recently released Firstlight viewer), giving the sim a somewhat romantic or mysterious feel.
The text in typeface courier below are descriptions from the notecards available on the island.
It was common practice in Mesoamerican cities to periodically build larger and bigger temple pyramids atop older ones, and this is one such example. Archaeologists discovered a doorway at the base of the north stairway that leads to a tunnel, from which one can climb the steps of the earlier version of El Castillo inside the current one up to the top room where you can see religious Jaguar Throne, carved of stone and painted red with jade spots. The design of the older pyramid inside is said to be a lunar calendar, with the newer pyramid being a solar calendar.

The Temple of the Warriors was built by the end of 800 A.D. It is located on the eastern plaza of the central plain of Chichen Itza. The Temple of the Warriors is flanked by 1000 carved columns depicting fallen warriors. Near the Warriors is a large plaza surrounded by pillars called "The Great Market."
Vendor stands featuring replications of ancient Mayan artifacts and traditional Mexican goods thrived near the base of the pyramid.

Cenote (say-NO-tay) is the Spanish equivalent of the Yucatecan Mayan word for a water-filled, limestone sinkhole. In Mexico's northern Yucatan Peninsula, where there are few lakes or streams, cenotes provided a stable supply of water for the ancient Maya people who settled there. The great city of Chichen Itza was built around a cluster of these natural wells, including the one known as the “Sacred Cenote.”

The sim is impressively detailed and a lot of attention has been put to make the landscape look natural. The trees are among the best I've seen in Second Life. Again, I'm impressed, there was just so much to see and explore, much more than I've written and shown in this post. I'd suggest you'd better check it out yourself.

Two members of the Things to Do group immediately decided to don the Mayan Princess and Mayan Warrior outfits which were really cool freebees.

Finally, we knew the Mayab's were an advanced culture, but we didn't know they had HDtv as well.

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