Chichén Itzá was not born in tranquility; rather, it arose from social, political, economic, and probably military events that rocked Mesoamerica, a drama that we can perceive but only imperfectly understand because of current limitations of our information. Its birth gave the society a secular vigor, but in its beginning were the seeds of its end, and if its history consisted of great eras led by great men and times controlled by those of lesser mettle, of this we know little. From purely archaeological evidence the decline and fall of Chichén Itzá is less well understood than its rise. The architectural and sculptural record suggests a brilliant beginning of unknown duration followed by progressive artistic decline, but for the present this can only be observed, not explained. Until further advances in Mesoamerican archaeology, neither historical nor processual hypotheses will be well supported. This monograph contributes to the foundations upon which further research will rest.