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The Temple of the Seven Dolls in Dzibilchaltun is the most important monument of this Mayan Archaeological Site. The Temple got its name from the seven small effigy dolls found inside the temple.
It’s also known as the Temple of the Sun because of the phenomenon that occurs twice a year, in the equinoxes of spring and autumn, when the dawning sun is visible through its openings, a tribute to the incredible mathematical knowledge of the Maya.
This square structure was the focal point of the city, and well connected to the rest of the Dzibilchaltun by Sacbes, or “white roads”, named because they were originally covered with white limestone, built on top of rocks and rubble.
It was not until the 1950s that archaeologists found the Temple of the Sun in Dzibilchaltun buried under another building; for some reason, around the year 800, the temple was filled with stones and covered with another larger building on top. The remains of this second building still partially cover it.
The Equinox in Dzibilchaltun
The Mayans used the sun as a basis for planning their lives because they depended on agriculture. The planting began with the spring equinox and the harvest with autumn equinox. The Mayans built complex structures using very advanced geometry as well as astronomy to make maps of solar cycles.
The Dzibilchaltun – Chichen Itza Equinox challenge
If you’re up to the challenge, you can see both phenomena on the same day because the morning equinox takes place in the Temple of the Seven Dolls in Dzibilchaltun, and the evening equinox takes place in the Kukulkan Pyramid in Chichen Itza, which makes it possible to see both astronomical events on the same day.
The equinoxes are on March 20 and September 23. In Chichen Itza you can see the Serpent Effect for 4 days before and after the exact date, but in Dzibilchaltun you can only see the event on the day of the equinox.
Physical description of the Temple of the Seven Dolls in Dzibilchaltun
The one-story square building has a central hall surrounded by a corridor. There are four entrances with windows next to each side facing towards the west and the east. It may have been used as an astronomical observatory. The roof was like a tower, projecting upwards from a vaulted ceiling.
The walls are of poor quality because instead of mortar, mud was used to join the stones. Also, the walls are not perfectly smooth, contrary to what happens in all parts of the Mayan Peninsula at the same time.
There are stairs on all four sides of the Temple of the Sun in Dzibilchaltun that were built on a pyramid pedestal. There are also eight stucco masks on the frieze of the temple, as well as snakes, griffins, sea animals, and feathers, all sculpted in stucco.
The stairs are steep, and the steps narrow, which made it difficult to climb them. The staircases on the 4 sides reach the height of the first temple, the corners are decorated with stylized masks of the God of Rain. On the west staircase, there was apparently an oratory, the niche is preserved.
The overlapping constructions
Temple of the Seven Dolls in Dzibilchaltun is actually made up of 3 consecutive overlapping constructions. The first dates from 300 BCE, which was filled to build a second temple, as can be seen to this day.
When archaeologists excavated around the first temple, they found two flint knives in perfect condition, bone needles, fish bones, stone beads, and others.
The temple and stairways that we can see today correspond to the second period, whose construction dates from the year 500. The original beams were subinché trunks, a relatively narrow but extremely hard wood.
Location of the Temple of the Seven Dolls in Dzibilchaltun
The Temple of the Seven Dolls in Dzibilchaltun is located by itself at the edge of the Sacbe 1.