Chichen Itza Readies for Equinox

March 19th, 2008 by ejalbright

El Castillo During Equinox

In Mexico, the spring equinox equals good business.

INAH, the federal agency in charge of archaeological ruins in the country, expects some 50,000 visitors this year to visit at least one of 176 prehispanic archaeological site open to the public. One of the biggest draws of all is the ancient city of Chichen Itza, especially since being named a Wonder of the World.

Beginning today and running through March 23, thousands will descend on Chichen to watch Kukulcan, the feathered serpent, wind his way down the north face of El Castillo, the giant pyramid. Last year the total number of visitors neared 14,000, with the greatest being 5,000 on the March 21, the official day of the equinox.

INAH this year will emphasize protection of the ruins, and has put in what it calls the Disaster Prevention Program in the Field of Cultural Heritage (Previnah), “which will safeguard the integrity of the non-renewable cultural resources,” according to the Mexican newspaper, La Jornada. The huge numbers visiting these sites during the equinox can cause “irreversible damage to the sites,” the newspaper said.

INAH and security staff will be looking to keeping the following out of the zones during the equinox: Alcoholic beverages and drugs, weapons, herbs, animals, flowers, gas cylinders, bicycles, suitcases, backpacks and large objects.

At the same time, INAH will also be out to insure the safety of the public, and advises that visitors bring plenty of water and sunscreen, that they wear hats or use umbrellas, make proper use of toilets and facilities in general, as well as caring for children and the elderly to prevent dangers of sun and heat.

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