By Joel Skidmore

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Most recently, the Chichen Itza Archaeological Project has concentrated its impressive restorations in the southern area of the site known as Old Chichen. Here the Initial Series Group takes its name from the Temple of the Initial Series (5C4; map). This was partly excavated by George C. Vaillant in 1926, and the nature of the second building phase has been a mystery ever since.

It remains an open question if the upper structure with the two Atlantids bearing a lintel carved with Chichen's only Initial Series date is nothing more than the remaining sanctuary of the original construction, lacking as it does the surrounding passageway that survives in the Castillo and Osario. In any event, the Atlantids are almost certainly out of their original place, and the lintel that they bear comes from another building.

When Schmidt and his team began work on the House of the Caracoles ("Snails"; 5C5), they imagined that its original decoration was minimalistic, but they were surprised to discover an elaborate frieze featuring an anthropomorphic-zoomorphic figure emerging from a fruit surrounded by snails, birds, flowers, plants and fruits.

Schmidt's tour-de-force in assembling this complex relief sculpture from a veritable jigsaw puzzle of fallen blocks was aided by the fact that the Carnegie Insitution left the facade undisturbed where it had fallen as rubble.

A room on the corner where the Caracoles meets the Palace of the Phalli (5C14) holds one of the most interesting relief sculptures yet uncovered at Chichen Itza, a rubbing of which will be presented in the upcoming feature "Return to Old Chichen". The facade of the Palace of the Phalli itself has tablets of God N in snail and spider aspects.

The Temple of the Owls and the adjacent Temple of the Monkeys have been restored. On the rear facade of the former is a noteworthy relief sculpture.

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