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The Temple of the Three Lintels, for example, has Chahk masks at each corner.

However, unlike many other sites, Chichen Itza never disappeared from memory, and the city continued to be revered and esteemed as a place of ancestry and pilgrimage into the Postclassic period and up to the Spanish conquest, and even beyond.

The earlier section of Chichen Itza displays many Classic Maya traits.

The city has been traditionally divided into two distinct parts and periods, even if there is some overlap both in time and design, and together they cover some 16 square kilometres.

The earliest, in the south, is native Maya dating to the Epiclassic period (c.

Common features between the two cities found in architecture and relief sculpture include warrior columns, quetzal-feathered rattlesnakes, the clothing of subjects, (sacrificial skull rack), Tlaloc (the rain god) incense burners, and personal names represented by glyphs which are present at both sites but which are not Maya.

Alternative to the two-period view, the Americas historian George Kubler divides the buildings of Chichen Itza into three distinct phases: prior to 800 CE, from 800 to 1050 CE, and 1050-1200 CE.

Kubler adds that the latter stage saw the addition of ornate narrative reliefs to many of the buildings at the site.

It has also been suggested that due to various styles of architecture pre-dating those found at the Toltec capital Tula, it may actually have been Chichen Itza which influenced the Toltec rather than the reverse.

On each side of the pyramid is a staircase which leads up to a single modest square structure.

This summit building has two chambers and is decorated with jaguar relief panels and round shields.

At certain times of year, for example on the autumnal equinox, triangular shadows from the different levels of the pyramid are cast onto the sides of the northern staircase, giving the illusion a gigantic snake is climbing the structure built in honour of the feathered-serpent god.