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Chichen Itza

April 21, 1985

I was pleased to see the vernal equinox "serpent" at Chichen Itza, Mexico, featured in Sherrie Strausfogel's story March 10. Unfortunately, her account was flawed with many errors. For example, the Caracol "observatory" was not a domed structure, although from some angles it appears to be domed because parts of its upper story have fallen away. There is no real resemblance to modern observatories, and such a comparison is misleading. . . .

The dates of construction for most of Chichen Itza, and certainly the Castillo, are AD 900-1200, long after the 435-455 dated quoted. And we have no way to establish that Chichen Itza was the "Mayans' most sacred city." Some of the monuments built by the Maya incorporate astronomical and calendrical elements, but it is not correct to characterize them as "timepieces.". . .

E. C. KRUPP, Ph.D.

director

Griffith Observatory

Los Angeles

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