‘temple I,’ Tikal, Guatemala Was Built By What Culture

Tikal Temple I – Wikipedia

Temple I, Tikal

Temple I viewed across the main plaza from Temple II
Shown within Guatemala
Alternative name El Gran Jaguar
Location Guatemala
Coordinates 17°13′19″N89°37′22″W / 17.221944°N 89.622778°W
Height 47 m
Builder Jasaw Chan K’awiil I (other names) Ah Cacao, King Moon Double Comb
Material local limestone
Founded c. 732 AD
Abandoned c. 1450
Periods Classic-Postclassic
Cultures Mayan
Site notes
Excavation dates 1955–1964
Archaeologists Aubrey Trik; George Guillemin
Condition stabilized ruin
Public access Yes

Tikal Temple is the name given to one of the most important structures at Tikal, one of the most important towns and archeological sites of the pre-Columbian Maya civilisation in Mesoamerica. It is one of the most important structures at Tikal. It is located in the northernGuatemala area of thePetén Basin region. It is also referred to as the Temple of the Great Jaguar due to the presence of an alintel that depicts a monarch seated on a jaguar throne. The Temple of Ah Cacao is another name for the structure, named after the monarch who is buried there.

It is a classic example of Peten architecture.

The construction of Temple I on the eastern side of the Great Plaza was a significant departure from the established custom of erecting funeral temples directly north of the plaza on Tikal’s North Acropolis, which had been followed for centuries.


An important mortuary temple linked with Jasaw Chan K’awiil I, a Classic Period monarch of the Tikal-based state who reigned from AD 682 to 734, the construction is a funerary temple. Archaeologists have discovered the tomb of this emperor, which was erected first and then the temple was built on top of it. The tomb was discovered deep within the edifice by archaeologists. The construction of both structures was overseen by Jasaw Chan K’awiil’s son and heirYik’ in Chan K’awiil’s family. Jasaw Chan K’awiil is believed to have planned the construction of the temple years before his death.

  • The temple’s moldings are grooved, and the corners are inset.
  • Temple I, as seen from the northwest corner of the building The temple towers above the Great Plaza, rising 55 meters (180 feet) above the ground.
  • The lintels were carved from sapodillawood, and one of them, Lintel 3, had previously been painted red to distinguish it from the others.
  • This wood was used to construct the lintels, which were fitted into little niches cut into the walls to make the three doors; the outermost lintet was smooth, while the middle lintet was carved with fine detail from four planks of this wood.
  • John Boddam-Whetham, a British adventurer, was responsible for removing the other two, which were afterwards presented to the British Museum in London.
  • The temple has a high roof comb that is ornamented with a sculpture of the sitting monarch, Jasaw Chan K’awiil, however it is difficult to make out the details of the sculpture now.
  • The weight of this massive superstructure is carried by the temple’s spine, which is made of stone.
  • Originally, it served as a support for molded plaster embellishment as well.
  • A high corbel-vaulted ceiling supported by wooden beams distinguished the three chambers, which were situated one behind the other.
  • It was possible that Temple I was repurposed during the Postclassic Period.
  • The offerings made in conjunction with the new burial includedcensers of a kind found in Mayapánas well as twoceramictypes that were widely used in Petén throughout the Postclassic period, among other things.

After the fourteenth century, the form of censer linked with the new burial practice was no longer in use.

Royal tomb

Archaeologists found the tomb of Jasaw Chan K’awiil I in 1962, and it has been a source of fascination ever since. After exploratory digging from the bottom of the temple stairs, it was possible to gain access through the top of the tomb. Archaeologists have designated the tomb as Burial 116 in their excavations. It is a vast vaulted room that is located deep within the pyramid, below the level of the Great Plaza, and is accessible only via ladder. The masonry seat that supports the king’s body as well as his jewelry takes up more than half of the space in the room.

  • The tomb also held the bones of the monarch, who had been laid out on a woven mat.
  • One of the most impressive objects retrieved from the tomb was an exquisite jademosaicvessel with a carved picture of the king on the lid, which was one of the most impressive pieces recovered from the tomb.
  • Other inscriptions mention Tikal’s allies, such as Copán and Palenque, while others indicate the king’s name and lineage.
  • Several depictions depict the maize deity being taken to the underworld in a boat, which is also shown.

Modern history

The city of Tikal was found in the year 1848. It was in 1877 when different parts from the great temples of Tikal, including elements from Temple I, were plundered. When Alfred P. Maudslay originally sketched the center of Tikal in 1881–1882, he included Temple I among the five principal temples he identified on his drawing, which he labeled with an alphabetical designation spanning from A through E. Maudslay was the first European to chart the center of Tikal. As part of the firsttopographicalsurvey of the site, Teoberto Maler designated Temple I as the “First Great Temple” in 1895, which is now known as Temple II.

  • The University of Pennsylvania launched its Tikal Project in 1955, carrying out archaeological examinations of the remains and preparing them for opening to tourists.
  • Aubrey Trik and George Guillemin were in charge of the project’s supervision.
  • The construction of Temple I continued until 1964.
  • As part of the 2012 phenomenon, the contemporary Maya staged a fire ritual in the main plaza in front of the temple on December 21, 2012, at the crack of dawn.

Guatemalan and international priests presided over the event, which called for unity, peace, and the abolition of prejudice and racism. They expressed the hope that the new cycle that begins will bring them a “new dawn.” A total of around 3,000 individuals attended the event.

See also

  • Tikal Temple II, Tikal Temple III, Tikal Temple IV, Tikal Temple V
  • Tikal Temple VI
  • Tikal Temple VII
  • Tikal Temple VIII


  1. Ah Cacao was an early nickname for Jasaw Chan K’awiil I, the monarch of Tikal, whose grave is contained within the temple.


  1. AbcdefghMartinGrube 2000, p.47
  2. AbcdefSharerTraxler 2006, pp.313, 397
  3. AbcdefghMartinGrube 2000, p.45
  4. AbcdefSharerTraxler 2006, pp.313–397
  5. A.B.C.D. Coe 1967, 1988, p.29
  6. AbcdCoe 1967, 1988, p.29
  7. AbcdBritish Museum Collection (1). Collection of the British Museum (2). Website of Tikal National Park
  8. Miller 2001, p.134
  9. AbCoe 1967, 1988, p.28
  10. Fuente et al 1999, pp.145–146
  11. Miller 2001, p.134. The following are examples of Coe 1967, 1988, p.29
  12. The following are examples of Coe 1962, pp.482–483
  13. The following are examples of Drew 1999, p.277
  14. The following are examples of Drew 1999, p.278
  15. The following are examples of Coe 1999, p.124.


  • Michael D. Coe is the author of this work (1999). The Maya are a people that live in Mexico. Ancient Peoples and Places is a series of books on ancient peoples and places (6th, fully revised and expanded ed.). Coe, William R., ed., London and New York: Thames Hudson, ISBN 0-500-28066-5, OCLC59432778
  • Coe, William R., ed (April 1962). Excavation and research at Tikal, Guatemala, from 1956 to 1961: a summary of the findings. American Antiquity.Society for American Archaeology.27(4): 479–507.doi: 10.2307/277674
  • Coe, William R. American Antiquity.Society for American Archaeology.27(4): 479–507. (1988). The Maya Ruins of Tikal: A Guide to the Ancient Maya Ruins (in Spanish). David Drew and Piedra Santa (Guatemala), ISBN 84-8377-246-9
  • Drew, David (1999). The Maya Kings’ Lost Chronicles are a collection of stories about their ancestors. OCLC43401096
  • Fuente, Beatriz de la
  • Leticia Staines Cicero
  • Alfonso Arellano Hernández
  • Alfonso Arellano Hernández (1999). The Mayas of the Classic Period were a race of people that lived thousands of years ago. Sentries of Eternity is a work of art. Mexico City, Mexico: Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, ISBN970-18-3005-9
  • Grupo Nacional por la Cultura y las Artes, ISBN970-18-3005-9
  • Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, ISBN970-18-3005-9
  • (21 December 2012). “Celebrations herald the beginning of a new era in the Mayan calendar.” La Nación (Costa Rica) is a country in Central America (in Spanish). Agence France-Presse is a French news agency. The original version of this article was published on December 21, 2012. Simon Martin and Nikolai Grube (2012-12-22)
  • Martin, Simon
  • And Nikolai Grube (2000). Chronical History of the Maya Kings and Queens: The Decodification of the Maya Dynasties in the Ancient World “Mayas guatemaltecos inician ceremonia de fuego para recibir nueva era,” published by Thames & Hudson, ISBN 0-500-05103-8, OCLC47358325
  • “Mayas guatemaltecos inician ceremonia de fuego para recibir nueva era.” La Nación (Costa Rica) is a country in Central America (in Spanish). Agence France-Presse is a French news agency. The 21st of December, 2012. The original version of this article was published on December 21, 2012. Miller, Mary Ellen (2012-12-22)
  • Retrieved from (2001). Sculpture in Mesoamerica: From the Olmec to the Aztecs. World of Art is a television programme that airs on PBS (3rd ed.). London:ThamesHudson. ISBN0-500-20345-8.OCLC59530512
  • Muoz Cosme, Gaspar
  • Scar Quintana Samayoa
  • ISBN0-500-20345-8.OCLC59530512
  • (1996). “Restoration work at Tikal’s Templo I, 1992–1994” is a collection of essays about the history of the temple (PDF). The IX Simposio de Investigaciones Arqueológicas en Guatemala, 1995 (edited by J.P. Laporte and H. Escobedo) is a collection of papers presented during the IX Simposio de Investigaciones Arqueológicas en Guatemala, 1995. (in Spanish). 302. Guatemala: Museo Nacional de Arqueologa y Etnologa (National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology). On September 14, 2011, the original version (digital version) was archived. Sharer, Robert J.
  • Traxler, Loa P. (2009-11-15)
  • Traxler, Loa P. (2006). The Ancient Maya (sixth (completely rewritten) edition. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, ISBN 0-8047-4817-9, OCLC 57577446
  • Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, ISBN 0-8047-4817-9, OCLC 57577446


Tikal is a collection of Mayan ruins located deep into the Guatemalan jungles in the northern part of the country. Researchers believe the more than 3,000 structures on the site date back to a Mayan metropolis named Yax Mutal, which was the capital of one of the most powerful kingdoms in ancient Mesoamerica, according to historians. At Tikal, some of the structures date back to the fourth millennium BCE. It was a prominent metropolis in the Maya kingdom from 200 to 900 A.D., and it was known as Tikal or Yax Mutal.

Tourism has been credited with supplying finances for the restoration and maintenance of the Tikal, and a museum has been open at the site since its construction in 1964.

Tikal History

People lived at Tikal as long back as 1000 B.C., according to historians and archaeologists. Archaeologists have discovered evidence of agricultural activity at the site that dates back to 700 B.C., as well as traces of ceramics that date back to that time period. Several enormous Mayan pyramid-style temples had been built in the city of Yax Mutal by 300 B.C., and the most of the city’s significant structure had been finished by then. It was not until the first century AD that the city began to thrive culturally and politically, eventually surpassing the northern city of El Mirador in terms of strength and importance within the Mayan empire, which reached as far north as the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.

Yax Mutal

According to hieroglyphic documents discovered at the site, it was regarded as the center of authority for the Mayan monarch Yax Ehb Xook, who at the time governed most of the surrounding lowland region. As a result, the city was given the name Yax Mutal in his honor. When Chak Tok Ich’aak ascended to the throne of Yax Mutal in the early third century A.D., it is thought that he ordered the construction of the palace that would later serve as the foundation for the city’s CentralAcropolis, the ruins of which can still be seen today.

You might be interested:  What Is Culture Lag

Within a few decades, at the beginning of the fifth century A.D., the city’s rulers had commissioned the construction of an elaborate system of fortifications, which included ditches and earthworks, along its northern periphery, which joined with natural swampland defenses to the south, east, and west to effectively form a protective wall around the city.

Subsequent kings continued to grow the city far into the seventh century A.D., and it is estimated that the city had a population of up to 90,000 people at its height. Yax Mutal is located in what is now northern Iraq.

Collapse of Mayan Empire

By the year 900 A.D., the city, like most of the Mayan empire, had fallen into a state of rapid deterioration. The toll of decades of relentless fighting has begun to show its effects. In addition, historians think that the region was hit by a series of droughts and outbreaks of epidemic illnesses during this time period. The fall of Classic Maya is referred to as this time period. In particular, historians think that overcrowding and ensuing deforestation in the area around Tikal resulted in crop failure, and that many decided to evacuate the city rather than suffer.

The area around Tikal had a sparse population for centuries until the entrance of Spanish colonialists in the 1500s, which is a fascinating fact to consider.

It wasn’t until the mid-19th century that European explorers claimed to have “found” Tikal and began writing about its relics and monuments.

Tikal Ruins

A large number of the extant structures at Tikal were restored in the 1950s and 1960s thanks to the efforts of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, who worked with the assistance of the Guatemalan government. The majority of the city’s structures were constructed of long-lasting limestone, and as a result, many of them have survived. Among the notable constructions that are still standing today are:

  • The Great Plaza, also known as the city’s major square
  • The Central Acropolis, which is said to have functioned as the primary residence for the city’s kings
  • The Acropolis of Athens
  • And the Acropolis of Epidaurus. The Acropolis of the North
  • The Mundo Perdido temple, sometimes known as the “lost world,” is a massive Mayan pyramid. The Temple of Ah Cacao, also known as the Temple of the Great Jaguar, is a Mayan pyramid that spans more than 150 feet high and functioned as a burial ground for the Mayans. Temple I, whose picture appears on the 50 centavo note in contemporary Guatemalan money
  • Temple II, whose image appears on the 50 centavo note in modern Guatemalan currency
  • And Temple III, which appears on the 50 centavo note in modern Guatemalan currency.

In addition, remnants of the city’s system of sacbeobs, or paved causeways, as well as an elaborate network of canals meant to gather rainwater and feed the city’s reservoirs, may still be found. There are also the ruins of multiple ballcourts that were used for the so-called Mesoamerican ballgame, which is still in use today.

Tikal National Park

Tikal is still under investigation by archaeologists, who are attempting to identify and dig the sites that are thought to have functioned as the primary dwellings for the vast bulk of the inhabitants. From the mid-1950s through the early 1970s, excavation and restoration work at Tikal Park was directed by the University of Pennsylvania’s Tikal Park project, which was based at the University of Pennsylvania. Researchers working on the Tikal Project discovered the ruins of more than 200 buildings at Tikal, which were previously unknown.

Tikal National Park’s major mission now, as it has been for more than 50 years, is, nonetheless, the promotion and development of tourism.

Tikal National Park, on the other hand, is now connected to the rest of Guatemala via a network of interconnected roadways. Tikal was utilized as a site for the first official Star Warsfilm, Episode IV, which was directed by George Lucas in 1977.


Tikal National Park is located in Guatemala. Center for UNESCO World Heritage Sites The official website of Tikal National Park is www.tikalnationalpark.org. M. Strauss, et al (2008). “Tikal’s Mysteries” is a book about the ancient city of Tikal in Guatemala. Smithsonianmag.com. Snow, J., et al (2016). “El Mirador and Tikal, Guatemala,” says the narrator. Nationalgeographic.com.


Tikal, the ancient Maya civilization’s capital city and ceremonial center, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was the greatest urban center in the southern Maya lowlands, and it was located 19 miles (30 kilometers) north of Lake Petén Itzáin what is now the northern section of the area ofPetén, Guatemala, amid a tropical rainforest. It was the largest urban center in the southern Maya lowlands. Uaxactn, a tiny Maya city approximately 12 miles (20 kilometers) to the north, was the site of the battle.

A small village in the Middle Formative Period (900–300bce), Tikal later developed into a significant ceremonial center in the Late Formative Period (300–100ce), when major pyramids and temples were built.

Its zenith, on the other hand, occurred during the Late Classic Period (600–900ce), when the planning and construction of its great plazas, pyramids, and palaces, the appearance of Mayahieroglyphic writing and complex systems of time-counting, and the flowering of Maya art, as evidenced by monumental sculpture and vase painting, all occurred during this period.

  • These stelae, which are frequently carved with the characteristics of a priest or other notable person, are engraved with hieroglyphs and dates.
  • Josef Muench is a German composer.
  • But what about all of the little nuances in the middle?
  • Early Classic Period (100–600 CE), Tikal was a major trade station in southern Mesoamerica, serving as a hub for the vast commerce network that the contemporaneous central Mexican metropolis of Teotihuacánhad developed in the region.
  • Between 600 and 800, Tikal achieved its architectural and artistic zenith, after which a period of collapse began, marked by depopulation and a general degradation in the quality of the artwork.
  • Small groups of people continued to remain on the site for another century or two, but Tikal, like the other Maya centers in the southern lowlands, was abandoned by the 10th century, along with the rest of the region.
  • In a broader region, comprising at least 6 square miles (15.5 square kilometers), surveys uncovered a number of outlying smaller structures that were likely to have been homes.

It is thought that at its peak (about 700 AD), the heart of Tikal had a population of roughly 10,000 people, but that the center leaned on an outlying population of approximately 50,000 people to sustain itself.

One such complex consists of a number of structures under which have been discovered a number of elaborately built burial chambers.

Pyramid II, which stands 138 feet (42 metres) above the forest floor and faces Pyramid I, is located just west of and facing Pyramid I.

Pyramid III rises to a height of 180 feet (55 metres).

One of the most impressive of the Tikal structures is Pyramid IV, which stands at 213 feet tall and is located on the westernmost of the main ruins, as well as on the site of the Temple of the Two-Headed Serpent.

Pyramid IV is one of the highest pre-Columbian buildings in the Western Hemisphere, standing at a height of 450 meters. KATHLEEN SHEETZ was the author of the most recent revision and update to this article.


Tikal was the ancient Maya civilization’s capital city and ceremonial center. Located in what is now the northern section of the province ofPetén, Guatemala, it was the greatest urban center in the southern Maya lowlands and situated 19 miles (30 kilometers) north of Lake Petén Itzáin a tropical jungle. About 12 miles (20 kilometers) to the north was the Mayan town of Uaxactn, which had a population of less than 10,000. This World Heritage Site was certified by UNESCO in 1979 and is the main attraction of Tikal National Park, which was constructed in the 1950s and classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  • Like many Maya centers in the southern lowlands, it was first occupied as a small village during the Middle Formative Period (900–300bce).
  • A large number of dedicatory stele can be found on the site, and they range from the 3rd century to the end of the 9th century.
  • A view of Tikal’s Great Plaza, which includes stelae (in the foreground), the Temple of the Jaguar (on the left), and the Palace of the Nobles (in the background) (right).
  • Test your knowledge of the Britannica.
  • You’re well-versed in fundamental historical truths.
  • To find out if you qualify for the title of History Buff, put your history knowledge to the test.
  • 100–600 ce), when the nearby central Mexican metropolis of Teotihuacán had created a vast commercial network.

When Tikal achieved its architectural and artistic zenith between 600 and 800 A.D., the city experienced a period of collapse, which included depopulation and a general degradation in the quality of its art.

Small groups of people remained to dwell on the site for another century or two, but Tikal, like the other Maya centers in the southern lowlands, was abandoned by the 10th century, along with the rest of the world.

In a broader region, comprising at least 6 square miles (15.5 square kilometers), surveys uncovered a number of outlying smaller structures that were likely to have been residential.

Tikal’s core had a population of around 10,000 people at its peak (around 700), but the city leaned on an outlying population of approximately 50,000 people, according to estimates.

This type of complex is made up of a number of structures, the foundations of which have been discovered to contain elaborately built burial chambers.

Pyramid II, which stands 138 feet (42 metres) above the forest floor and faces Pyramid I, is located just west of and facing Pyramid I.

It is 180 feet (55 metres) tall, making it the tallest pyramid in the world.

One of the most impressive of the Tikal structures is Pyramid IV, which stands at 213 feet tall and is located on the westernmost of the major ruins, as well as on the site of the Temple of the Two-Headed Serpent (Temple of the Serpent with Two Heads).

It is one of the highest pre-Columbian buildings in the Western Hemisphere, standing at an impressive 450 meters. The most recent revision and update to this page was made by Kathy Sheetz, who also wrote it.

Historical Overview

Beginning approximately 300 BCE, the settlement of Tikal was established, and after clearing off portions of the jungle, colossal building was constructed between the years 100 BCE and 100 CE. The city’s wealth was built on the use of natural resources such as cedar wood, dye from brazil wood, copal resin, flint, and the cultivation of maize in cleared portions of rainforest and rich marsh regions, as well as the export of these products. In 378 CE, Tikal was conquered by armies from faraway Teotihuacan (or, at the very least, commercial ties were formed), which had a significant impact on the cultural practices of the city, ranging from clothing and art to architecture and architecture.

  • At its peak, the city of Tikal had a population of about 50,000 people, including the scattered urban villages around the city, and it occupied an area of over 200 square kilometers of surrounding terrain.
  • Teotihuacan’s dominance began to wane in the 6th century CE, and other Maya towns, particularly Caracol, strove to expand their military reach, eventually destroying Tikal in 562 CE.
  • One of the most notable rulers during this revival was Jasaw Chan K’awiil (r.
  • One of the most stunning new structures was a pair of gigantic pyramids known as Temple I and Temple II.
  • Other pyramidal couples were constructed subsequently, although the majority of these have remained unexcavated.
  • The city, with its towering temples, was finally reclaimed by the forest, and it was only in the mid-19th century CE that it was rediscovered.
  • Simon Burchell is a well-known British actor who has been in a number of films and television shows.
You might be interested:  When Trying To Change A Problem Culture, Management Should Undertake Such Steps As


Tikal is made up of nine separate plazas and courts that are connected by causeways and ramps, and it has more than 3,000 buildings in all. The structures were spread out across an area of around 15 square kilometers, resulting in a city with a low population density. Sometime before 250 CE, the Great Plaza and NorthAcropoliswere built on a north-south axis, which is still in use today. Up to the 8th century CE, building on Temples I and II followed this layout, with the exception that they were erected on an east-west axis instead.

In addition to its majestic temples, the city had palaces, a market complex, ten reservoirs, two holy causeways, and a one-of-a-kind triple ballcourt, among other features.

These stelae were erected in rows along the edges of the plazas to serve as memorials.

In it, the ruler is seen clutching the Jaguar God of the Underworld in his left hand, who is most likely a patron god of Tikal.

Throughout the site’s history, multi-level pyramids, raised platforms, corbel-vaulted chambers, large stucco god masks flanking staircases, and a deliberate orientation with the heavens, cardinal directions, and, in some cases, time itself have been observed, as evidenced by the 8th century CE pair of pyramids built every 20-yearkatuncycle.

Many graves within structures are decorated with paintings, the earliest of which date back to around 50 BCE.

The murals are often depictions of kings and gods, no doubt to emphasize the divine heritage of the tomb’s occupant’s ancestors. Tikal, the North Acropolis Peter Andersen is a well-known Danish author (CC BY-SA)

Architectural Highlights

The Acropolis of the North The North Acropolis, which was initially constructed around 250 BCE and has been renovated several times throughout the years, has the oldest structures of Tikal. These temples, which were erected on two rectangular platforms, the oldest and biggest of which spans 100 x 80 metres, were used as mausoleums for the early Tikal rulers, and were built on the site of an earlier temple complex. In the most lavish tomb was that of Yax Nuun Ayiin, also known as ‘Curl Nose,’ who died in 420 CE and was buried with nine sacrificial victims as well as numerous exquisite pots of chocolate and maize gruel, among other things.

  • 320 CE), Great Jaguar Paw, Stormy Sky, and Smoking Frog (all of whom died about the same time).
  • Subscribe to our free weekly email newsletter!
  • The complex, which was similar to the better-preserved palace at Palenque, included wide halls, seats arranged along walls, enclosed courtyards, and stucco images of prisoners, among other features.
  • The courtyards would have been utilized for major rites, such as blood-letting and sacrifices, according to tradition.
  • On the eastern side of the complex, there are three platforms, while on the western side, there is just one platform.
  • Tikal’s Temple No.
  • The Temple I pyramid, which was built in the 8th century CE on a west-east axis and facing each other across the Great Plaza, contains the traditional nine levels that resemble those of the Maya underworldXibalba and was constructed on a west-east axis.
  • The Tikal monarch Jasaw Chan K’awiil was buried deep within Temple I, and his wife is a leading possibility for the identity of the now-missing occupant of the 42-metre-high Temple II, which is located nearby.
  • Temple IV, the largest edifice at Tikal and the tomb of King Yax Kin, should be mentioned last because it stands at 70 metres high and is the tallest structure in all of Central America (734-746 CE).

Did you find this definition to be helpful? Prior to publication, this paper was checked for correctness, dependability, and conformance to academic standards by two independent reviewers.

A Brief History of Guatemala’s Tikal Ruins

Tikal | Photograph by Hugo Zea / Flickr Tikaul is an ancient Mayan kingdom located in Guatemala and is the country’s most famous tourist destination. A sprawling metropolis tucked away deep within Mexico’s jungle-clad Peten region, Tikal served as the country’s most affluent city during its Classic Period and the throbbing heart of the Mayan empire. Tikal was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, and its towering pyramids, which are covered in forest, draw people from all over the world.

An overview of Guatemala’s legendary vanished kingdom may be found here in a nutshell.

We know that the region was utilized for agricultural before then since remains of early agriculture have been discovered in the vicinity.

Image from Flickr user tikal|travel doc By 378 AD, Tikal had risen to become the preeminent city in the area, and it controlled the majority of Mesoamerica in terms of politics, economics, and military power (Mesoamerica refers to Mexico and Central America before the arrival of the conquistadors in the 1500s).

  1. Image from Flickr user Tikal|mockney piers While scientists are unsure of the exact magnitude of Tikal’s population during the Mayan Classic Period, it is estimated to have been between 50,000 and 100,000 individuals.
  2. During the time of Tikal’s dominion, a powerful dynasty governed, which often handed authority down from father to son, and this aggressive powerhouse frequently waged war with its neighbors.
  3. The two states engaged in a number of wars before Calakmul ultimately conquered Tikal in 562 AD, resulting in the first lapse in Tikal’s dominance.
  4. Tikal ||Photography by Karen Queller ||
  5. The Mayans were known to undertake ritual human sacrifice, and evidence of this practice has been discovered in this area.
  6. However, Tikal was a very developed monarchy in many ways, despite its ancient origins.
  7. It also had a library with thousands of volumes, and the city itself is an archaeological sight to see.
  8. There are also multiple temples and pyramids, the tallest of which is Temple IV – also known as the Temple of the Two-Headed Snake, according to the Mayans – and is the highest structure on the site.
  9. By the year 950 AD, Tikal had been completely abandoned.
  10. Drought and deforestation, according to the majority of studies, were the least significant contributors, but these are still just speculations.

Because Tikal was an old Mayan powerhouse that prospered, then was abandoned, and then was reclaimed by the forest, the mystery surrounding its demise has become part of its allure in recent years.

Maya architecture and culture that you may see on a tour

Tikal is a wonderful destination to visit if you want to view one of the most famous ruined towns from the Classic Period of the Maya. It is a must-see for everyone interested in Maya history. Petén, Guatemala’s north central region, some 50 miles northwest of the border with Belize, is home to this community. Tikal is the largest and, according to some estimates, the oldest of the Mayan cities. The site, which is located in a high canopy rainforest, has at least 3,000 structures, including a number of extraordinarily towering temples that tower over the surrounding forest.

  • The major civic and religious hub of the city has over 500 acres of space (200 hectares).
  • The archaeological site of Tikal, in addition to its several well-preserved temples and pyramids, provides a fantastic chance for animal and bird viewing.
  • For a variety of reasons that may turn out to be numerous in number, the major Maya settlements of the southern lowlands fell into ruin between 600 AD and 800 AD, and were abandoned and adopted by the surrounding rainforest during this time period.
  • The cause for this is unclear, but the most severe consequences were confined to the center areas, and as a result, the northern lowlands continued to develop throughout what is known as the Late Classic era.
  • Belize’s Tikal Maya Ruins are a must-see.
  • Instead, they organized themselves into autonomous commonwealths.
  • Maya kings were considered to be descended from the gods, and their royal blood was considered to be the most appropriate sacrifice.

ArchitectureLimestone constructions, which were faced with lime clay, were the distinguishing characteristics of ancient Maya architecture.

In the Maya world, tombs were frequently housed within or beneath larger constructions.

The majority of Maya sites also contained multi-roomed complexes that were likely used as royal palaces and administrative headquarters, in addition to temples.

The Maya culture developed and continues to exist in a region of Mexico and Central America known as Mesoamerica, which is a combination of the words Meso and America.

The Maya in the Modern Era It is not only inaccurate, but it is also a grave insult to the more than 6 million Maya people who live today in Guatemala, Mexico, and Belize who believe that their culture has vanished.

Modern Maya religion is a vibrant fusion of Catholicism and ancient Maya beliefs and rituals that has evolved over time. These days, pilgrims to mountain and cave shrines present chickens, candles, and incense along with a traditional alcoholic drink, and the offerings are accepted by the gods.

Secrets of the Maya: Deciphering Tikal

Tikal’s great plaza, located at the heart of what was once one of the most powerful city-states in the Americas, is surrounded by monumental structures: the stepped terraces of the North Acropolis, which are festooned with grotesque giant masks carved out of plaster and masonry; a steep pyramid called Temple I, whose roof comb towers 145 feet above the ground, and its mate across the plaza, Temple II, which soars 125 feet At the height of its power, around the year 750, Tikal was home to at least 60,000 Maya and ruled over a number of smaller city-states distributed throughout the rain forest from the Yucatán Peninsula to western Honduras, according to archaeological evidence.

  • However, despite their magnificence, the remains of Tikal that can still be seen today constitute only a portion of the former city-state.
  • However, the majority of Tikal, which is located in the center of Guatemala’s Tikal National Park, approximately an hour’s drive northeast of the contemporary city of Flores, has not even been excavated.
  • While many Maya experts disagreed with Thompson’s theory, others supported it, arguing that the Maya were peaceful philosophers and extraordinary observers of celestial events, content to ponder the nature of time and the cosmos.
  • Eric Thompson of the Carnegie Institution of Washington.
  • It was a wonderful vision—but it was almost entirely incorrect.
  • It was discovered that Mayan art and writing featured accounts of warfare, sacrificial sacrifices, and torture.
  • It was not enough for Maya towns to be purely ceremonial; instead, they were a patchwork of feudal fiefdoms intent on conquest and living in perpetual terror of being attacked by outside forces.

A series of towering carved stones, known as stelae, may be seen at the base of Tikal’s North Acropolis.

During the Spanish invasion of Mesoamerica in the 16th century, the Catholic Church’s Friar Diego de Landa oversaw the burning of hundreds of Maya codices, which were fig-bark volumes containing mythical and astronomical knowledge, according to the National Geographic.

And one clue to the glyphs from that era has been preserved: a text written by Landa in 1566 on his meeting with the Maya and preserved in the British Museum.

However, despite the fact that sections of his text were initially published in 1864, it would be over a century before epigraphers realized that Mayan hieroglyphs are really a mix of symbols combining both logographs (words) and syllabic signs, as opposed to just one (units of sound).

At least 85 percent of the Mayan manuscripts that have been discovered have been read and translated.

Following centuries of persecution by the Catholic Church, as well as a succession of brutal dictators, including the notorious Efrain Ros Montt, who was responsible for the murder of more than 100,000 Maya in the early 1980s, some Maya have begun to openly celebrate their heritage through pilgrimages to Tikal and other sites.

  1. The city was abandoned by its original residents more than a thousand years ago, and it remained undiscovered by outsiders for nearly a millennium before being discovered.
  2. Additionally, in 1841, the American diplomat, writer and explorer John Lloyd Stephens and the British painter Frederick Catherwood made much of their “discovery” of Maya remains in the vicinity, but they were unable to locate Tikal.
  3. Even the name “Tikal,” which is taken from the Mayan wordti ak’al, which means “at the water hole,” is a very modern invention.
  4. Stuart is currently a professor at the University of California, Berkeley.
  5. Stuart, who is now 38 years old, is the curator of Mayan hieroglyphs at Harvard University’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, where he has worked for the past decade.
  6. In Stuart’s words, “it’s about the vibe of the area.” “Tikal is unquestionably one of the most impressive archaeological sites on the planet,” says the author.
  7. 250 to 900.
  8. 49).
You might be interested:  How Did Judaism Influence Ethiopia's Culture

In the spring of this year, archaeologists working in the nearby city of Cival discovered evidence that distinctively Mayan art and writing may have developed as early as 300 B.C., and a wall painting dating to about ad 100, the oldest known intact Maya mural to date, was discovered in an 80-foot-high pyramid at the ruins of San Bartolo, a ceremonial site in Guatemala.

  1. It was from 1964 to 1970 that Stan Loten conducted surface surveys of Tikal’s standing structures.
  2. Scientists started deciphering the Maya calendar in the 1880s, long before other glyphs revealed their meanings.
  3. The majority of stelae include the date of their creation, which is written in a five-number sequence known to scholars as the Long Count, or the number of days that have passed since the beginning of the current epoch.
  4. Stela 29, the earliest dated monument yet discovered in Tikal and throughout the Maya lowlands, has a Long Count date of, which translates to a.d.
  5. Understanding the Maya calendar was a crucial step in comprehending their history and culture.
  6. The Hiatus is the term used to describe this period of monumental silence.
  7. One of the most significant advances in interpreting the Mayan writing system, however, came after the discovery and identification of the Long Count.

The symbol for Tikal’s emblem is read asmutal, which is derived from the wordmut, which means “bound” or “tied.” A ruler’s tied-back hairstyle is represented by the glyph (see stela, page 46), and it appears on stelae in ancient Maya city-states as far away as Copán, which is approximately 180 miles to the southeast.

  1. As the specialists deciphered more glyphs, they discovered that Tikal had been defeated in a fight with Caracol, a Maya metropolis located in modern-day Belize.
  2. 562 that commemorates the triumph.
  3. Before the glyphs were deciphered, no archaeologist could have imagined that Caracol, although being a significant city-state, could have brought down the powerful Tikal civilization.
  4. For more than a century, Tikal may have been a conquered city-state, beholden to foreign rulers and unable to defend itself against them.
  5. In 672, the city started a campaign against Dos Pilas, which was located around 70 miles to the southwest.
  6. The city’s loss is commemorated with glyph-covered stone stairways at Dos Pilas.
  7. Scholars used to refer to these monarchs by the glyphs that represented them, such as Double Bird, Jaguar Paw, and Curl Snout, among other names.

It was Nuun Ujol Chaak, a warrior king known as Shield Skull, who was the mastermind behind Tikal’s rebirth in the initial phase of its rebirth.

When Calakmul launched war on Tikal in the year 657, he fled the city as a young king.

Then, just five years later, Nuun Ujol Chaak was defeated once more by Dos Pilas, which was most likely partnering with Calakmul, who was at the time the Maya world’s most powerful power.

A depiction on the side of a building in the Central Acropolis depicts Jasaw being brought into the city on a litter, with a tether guiding his captive—possibly the vanquished lord of Calakmul—through the streets.

Only the upper floors of Temple IV have been rebuilt, but owing to a pair of wooden staircases that have been built above the ruins, tourists may ascend nearly to the top of this building and enjoy the best view of Tikal that the city has to offer.

The absence of any other human habitation is a mystery.

The Lost World, located southwest of the GreatPlaza, is a collection of pyramids and other structures.

According to Guatemalan epigrapher Federico Fahsen, the region was used as an observatory from around 500 B.C.

It competed with the North Acropolis for the title of ceremonial epicenter of Tikal during the early Classic era, and it also functioned as a royal burial place.

150 and 650, completely distinct from the Maya.

Despite this, the pottery patterns unearthed at Tikal and other Maya sites appear to be a reflection of the iconography of the Teotihuacán culture, particularly the storm god Tlaloc, who is shown in a gloomy light.

Surprisingly, he was successful in deciphering the hieroglyph that corroborated academic supposition about the day in 378 A.D.

It is likely no coincidence that the 14th king of Tikal, Chak Tok Ich’aak I, also known as Jaguar Paw, died on the same day as the 14th king of Tikal.

The cause of the civilization’s sudden fall is perhaps the most perplexing of all Maya puzzles to solve.

869, and the last one anywhere else in the Maya world was built in 909, according to the most recent dating of stelae found at Tikal.

The stelae are of no use because the collapse appears to have rendered much of the carving inoperable.

Tikal still has a few secrets under his sleeve.

According to Stuart, “I’ve been fascinated about this organization for a long time.” In my opinion, you can dig a site for five or six years and not make any significant advances in our understanding of Classic Maya civilization.” The discovery of a new inscription, which occurs by chance, changes everything.” His index finger is resting on the spot.

“You never know what you could come upon.” History Videos That Should Be Watched

Tikal: Capital of Maya Civilization

A temple at Tikal, one of the Maya city states, with a view of the surrounding area. The following images are credited to:a href=” Ichigo /a, anda href=” Shutterstock /a). The ancient Mayacity of Tikal, located in modern-day Guatemala, existed between 600 B.C. and A.D. 900, according to historians. With its origins as a small cluster of hamlets, it would grow into an enormous Mayan metropolis that would include more than two dozen colossal pyramids. Tikal is a relatively new Maya word that literally translates as “at the waterhole.” This was the name given to it after it had collapsed.

  1. Its population was believed to be as high as 100,000 people at its peak during the Late Classic era (A.D.
  2. The city’s occupants, according to recent study, developed a complex water management system to get them through periods when there was no rain.
  3. In addition to deciphering the writing, scholars have been able to recreate much of Tikal’s history via the use of the city’s archaeological relics.
  4. There are Maya writings that relate to the city, which is represented by the symbol for “cattail reed,” and there are artistic themes from Teotihuacan at Tikal, such as portrayals of the rain god Tlaloc, that can be discovered there.
  5. 13, 379 A.D., when a monarch called Siyaj K’ak is documented as ascending to the throne of Tikal, in what is now Guatemala.

Twin pyramid complexes

The famed Mayan calendar had a role in the ambitious pyramid construction efforts, which were partly inspired by it. It is believed that the city’s kings began building a twin pyramid complex at the end of the K’atun dynasty as early as A.D. 672. (20-year period). There would be a stairway on either side of each of these pyramids, which would be flat-topped and erected adjacent to one another. In the space between the pyramids was a plaza with buildings arranged to the north and south of the square.

According to archaeologist Robert Sharer’s book “The Ancient Maya,” “On the south side is a structure with nine openings; on the north side is a walled enclosure housing a stela and an altar” (Stanford University Press, 1994).

So far, nine of these twin pyramid complexes have been discovered at Tikal, and development of them appears to have proceeded until the city’s final stages.

Temples III

In addition to the twin pyramids, Tikal’s kings constructed six “temple” pyramids, which were buildings that were commonly used to commemorate the burial site of a ruling family member or ruler. At the heart of the city, two of them, known now as Temples I and II, stand opposite one other, with Tikal’s magnificent plaza situated in the middle of the two temples. East of the temple complex, Temple I soars 145 feet (44 meters) over the surrounding landscape. A stairway ascends via a succession of nine step stages, leading to an enclosed chamber at the top, which contains pictures of the ruler for whom the structure was constructed, Jasaw Kaan K’awil.

  • Several luxury items, like as jaguar pelts, jade, and even “delicately etched representations of individuals in boats on human bones,” were discovered within his burial chamber, according to Heather Irene McKillop’s book “The Ancient Maya: New Perspectives” (ABC-CLIO, 2004).
  • She is believed to have come from the city of Yaxhá, which is located around 19 miles (30 kilometers) southeast of Tikal.
  • Her pyramid, which climbs to a height of 125 feet (38 meters), is composed of three step stages.
  • In the words of John Montgomery, “Lady Tun Kaywak is dressed in magnificent Sun God bonnets and embroidered stoles, her image of which has been terribly corroded and worm-eaten.”

North Acropolis

The “North Acropolis,” which is located just to the north of these two temples, is known to archaeologists as the “North Acropolis.” It has been utilized for burying Tikal’s elite, particularly its kings, since the city’s earliest origins. At its heart lies an intricate network of temples, shrines, and tomb structures that have been restored and enlarged several times throughout the city’s history. They occupy an area of more than two and a half acre (1 hectare).


The city’s palace, also known as the Central Acropolis, is located to the south of Temples I and II, and to the north of Temples III and IV. It, like the North Acropolis, was built upon and changed throughout time as the city grew. It was in use as early as the era of Chak Tok Ich’aak I, who reigned about the year 375 A.D., according to archaeological evidence. His palace, a very small construction, included stairways on the east and west sides, as well as stone seats, on which he would have sat to do business, most probably seated on animal pelts to keep himself warm.

Once again, the fascination with pyramids is evident.

There was a “reviewing stand” erected up on the east side of the facility, which overlooked a basketball court. The specific rules of the game, which was played with a rubber ball, are unclear, but the monarch and his family would have had a front-row seat to witness it.

Lost World complex

The construction of the first pyramid at Tikal began around 2,000 years ago, and it was continuously renovated until the fourth century A.D., when it rose approximately 98 feet (30 meters) above the surrounding landscape. It is referred to as Mundo Perdido, or the “Lost World” complex by archaeologists today, and it is located southwest of the Temples I and II complex. According to a sequence of burial sites nearby, it appears to have served as the ultimate resting place for some of Tikal society’s most prominent members.

Tikal’s end

In the year 900, Tikal, along with much of the Maya culture, came to an end, however other towns, such asChichen Itza, which is located approximately 250 miles (400 km) north of Tikal, continued to thrive for centuries beyond that date. Although the exact cause of the collapse is still up for discussion, There is evidence to imply that drought and the use of marine channels for trade (rather than overland routes) were factors contributing to the fall. Deforestation, which occurred gradually as Tikal expanded in importance, may have contributed to this problem by limiting rainfall and making it more difficult to cultivate crops.

Author and Live Science Contributor Owen Jarus says: Owen Jarus is a writer for Live Science who specializes in archaeology and all topics relating to the history of mankind.

He loves learning about fresh research and is always on the lookout for an interesting historical story.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *