The Challenges this week are straightforward enough:
1. Find the place where this jaguar throne was found. What is the name of the building where it was found?
2. Find a picture taken from the top of the building where the throne was found. (Hint: You should be able to look in all directions with this one image.)
3. Nearby there is an arena where a very particular ball game was played. Can you see the arena from the top of the place where the jaguar throne was found? (For extra credit: What game was played in that arena?)
Answers: Finding the jaguar throne and the place where it was found is pretty simple. The query:
[ jaguar throne ]
leads to bunch of resources, including the very nice Wikipedia article on Chichen Itza where you'll learn that the jaguar throne was discovered in "El Castillo," ("the castle") which is also known as the Temple of Kukulkan (a Maya feathered serpent deity similar to the Aztec Quetzalcoatl).
The Temple of Kukulkan is located in northern part of the Chichen Itza complex, where it has stood since roughly 830 AD as the centerpiece of the regional capital of Chichen Itza. The city has more-or-less been continually occupied by people since its construction, although it seems to have been conquered and sacked a few times.
|Facade of El Castillo (1887), from |
"The Ancient Cities of the New World."
[ "el castillo" Chicha Itza ]
and found a treasure trove of resources (including archaeological journals). One of the more interesting finds was a book written in 1887 by Désiré Charnay and published in Guatemala. The Ancient Cities of the New world: Being voyages and explorations in Mexico and Central America from 1857-1882 has many illustrations of the site from the late 19th century, which is about when the modern interest in understanding the work of the Mayan began.
Of course, as with all older documents, you sometimes have to see things through their eyes. In the book, the temple is still "El Castillo" but the Temple's name is "Chulukan." More importantly, we've learned a LOT about the Mayan since 1887, and so some of the interpretations have to be weighed against more recent findings.
|Chichen Itza, El Castillo, photograph by Teobert Maler (1892)|
But as a vision of what it was like to see Chichen Itza nearly 200 years ago, this is a fine yarn. His description of walking around Chichen Itza in the moonlight is dreamy and lyrical--a fantastic vision of modernity encountering ancient ruins.
HOW can we find a 360 image taken from the top of the Temple?
To solve this, I turned to StreetView. I know that's not obvious, but let me show you how.
If you use Google Maps to look at Chichen Itza, you'll see the Temple / El Castillo easily enough. (You can click on the image below to see it at full size.)
This is the Earth view from Maps. It shows where El Castillo is and has a few very nice photos of the place.
But remember what we WANT is a 360 view. How do we find that?
Easy. Zoom in tight on El Castillo, then click on Pegman (the little yellow man on the lower right side of the Maps interface).
A single click will show all of the locations where Streetview imagery has been taken (and therefore places where you can drag the Pegman to see what's going on at that location). Notice that a LOT of the site has viewable imagery.
And now, if you click on the blue dot PhotoSphere marker at El Castillo, you'll see this:
This is a Google PhotoSphere, a draggable image for 360 views from a location. If you look at the bottom of the image, you'll see the date and credit (Nov 2007, Steven Dosremedios).
Our last question was "What was the ball game played there, and can you see the arena from the top of El Castillo?"
Again, the simplest query here is the best:
[ Chichen Itza ball court ]
gives many articles on the game of Ōllamaliztli (or in modern form, ulama). It has been played with rubber balls since 1,400 B.C. by the pre-Columbian peoples of Ancient Mexico and Central America. While there are many regional variations, the game of ulama is still played in area by the local indigenous population.
The game was traditionally referred to by the Maya as Pok-Ta-Pok. The Maya Twin myth of the Popol Vuh tells of the importance of the game as a symbol for warfare intimately connected to the theme of fertility (it's an interesting combination of ball-game playing, decapitation, fertility, human heads used as balls, calabashes, and squashes--you could go look it up...).
The ball court is marked on the maps as the "Estadio del juego de pelota," and if you look in the above Photosphere image, you can spot the corner of the arena in the upper part of the image, across the grassy field to the northwest.
|A modern ulama player from Sinaloa.|
The ball and outfit are probably very
similar to what was used in Chichen Itza.
(Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.)
Search lessons: As usual, for straightforward questions like this, the simplest possible query often gets you to the best results quickly.
However, sometimes you really DO need to know what's possible. If you didn't know about PhotoSpheres, now you do. They can sometimes be beautiful (such as this one from Haena State Park on Kauai) or stunning (Golden Gate bridge photosphere).
You now know the Maps trick for finding them. (Be sure to zoom in enough so the blue dot is visible.)
Another method is to search for the hashtag #photosphere in any of your favorite image collections. (G+, Flickr, etc.)
Enjoy your newfound ability to see the world in 360!