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The Changing Face of Mexico

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

At the ancient Maya city of Chichén Itzá, during the spring and fall equinoxes, the great pyramid of Kukulcán serves as a visual symbol of the day and night as the sun of the late afternoon creates the illusion of a snake creeping slowly down the northern staircase. Each year tourists visit the site at the equinoxes in appreciation of Maya achievements in astronomy and their obsession with time and cycles of the heavens.

These pages explain the history of the city, the site, and the pyramid, and describe the appearance of the pyramid on the equinox. Classroom activities and traditional recipes follow.