Exploring Chichén Itzá in Second Life

October 1, 2007

Last night in Second life I played virtual tourist at the archeological Site of Chichén Itzá. The build was commissioned by the Mexico Tourism Board to promote visiting the real site which is declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO and is one of the New 7 Wonders of the World.

The idea behind the build is to convey an overall feeling of Chichén Itzá and offer a visually compelling fun but immersive educational experience. Visitors can explore on foot or take a guided audio tour on the back of a butterfly.

There are information kiosks placed strategically throughout the build with a photo of the real life counterpart. With a click of the mouse a brief and informative notecard is delivered to read. I found it sad that one of the note cards handed out to visitors states that the site exists in real life as it indicated to me that perhaps visitors were unaware of this magnificent Mayan archaeological site!

In the virtual Chichén Itzá visitors can interact with the exhibits and fly over the site which is the first thing I did to get a sense of the layout of the digital landscape.

Climbing the stairs of El Castillo, or the Pyramid of the Serpent God Kukulkan, made me think that I would have kick the cigarettes if I was to visit. The pyramid is topped by a temple and you can explore inside.

To the side at the base of the pyramid there is a passage that runs up the middle of the structure. The entry is a tricky to navigate an avatar and I found I did better when I used Mouselook. You climb the stairs to a chamber inside the structure.

The notecard informed me that “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.”

Once at the top of the stairs it felt even spookier.

The next area I investigated was the Plaza of 1000 Columns which flanks the the Temple of the Warriors the original being built in 800 A.D. The carved columns represent fallen warriors so I guess this was a war memorial Myan style.

You can climb to the top for another view.

After wandering through the jungle park area I discovered the sweat lodges or Temezcals the originals are believed to be over 1200 years old.

Next I discovered a sinkhole, the Sacred Cenote. According to the notecard
“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.”

Since you can fly in second life I flew over the barricade and dived into the pool to see if there was anything to see inside. Apparently there is a treasure hunt but I found no treasure.

Although the real Chichen Itza does not have a jungle park in Second Life it does. Dotted through out are places to sit and relax and you could easily get together with friends for a picnic beside a scenic waterfall or the winding river that weaves its way through out the build. (I am a bit mad on waterfalls at the moment as I am attempting to build one on my own Sl land) Birds, dragonflies and snake dot the build. If you stop in the park area, small, humming birds greet you and then keep following you! An eagle constantly circles over head too. These are nice touches to a great build.

There are other areas of the build which I browsed but did not interact with much as the evening was getting late. Examples of housing, a market area, a beach area (with turtles) and a dance area are on the site as well. It’s well worth a visit and kept me busy well past midnight. There is plenty to keep you interested if you are on your own, or lots to do if you are with a friend.

SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Visit Mexico/192/70/39

For more information online about the real site see:

Chichen Itza in Wikipedia

Chichen Itza 360 Tour of the Ruins

Tour of Chichén Itzá

Welcome to Chichén Itzá.


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