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The past of Tikal’s Mayan Civilization

History per se is certainly never exact. Truly the only account we have now of history is the thing that remains by point of view. This is particularly true in the world of Mayan history, where the almost all detailed accounts of history are found from not skilled archaeologists, opinionated historians, erroneous translations, one-sided Spanish Conquistador scripts.

Apart from such scripts, historians and archaeologists, all they left us are eroding hieroglyphics which are not always decipherable, even by people who speak many Mayan dialects. Hence, the future account, just like any historical account of Mayan history, ought to be read with somewhat a constructive as well as curious skepticism. It is always best to seek the truth or something close to it.

The Classic Period

In the three regions of Mesoamerica is where the classic culture of the Mayans was developed. Probably the most essential as well as most complete urban developments happened in the lowlands in the “central region” of southern Guatemala. This region is twenty miles wide and is a drainage basin sixty miles long and covered by rich tropical rain forest; the Mayas, in reality, are only 1 of 2 individuals to create a metropolitan culture in a tropical rainforest.

Tikal was the principal city in this region, however the spread of urbanization expanded south to Honduras; the southernmost Mayan city was Copan in northern Honduras. The Mayan culture developed less fully in the Guatemalan highlands to the north. The highlands tend to be more warm and appear to have been the primary suppliers of raw materials to the central towns. The Yucatan Peninsula was the other major region of Mayan development which makes up the southern and the eastern portion of Mexico today.

The Yucatan Peninsula is a dry region, even though towns were constructed in this area, such as Chichen Itza and Uxmal (pronounced “Oosh-mal”), many historians think that this was a culturally marginal area. Following the desertion of the Classic Mayan towns, the Yucatn peninsula grew to become the primary region of a new, synthetic culture known as Toltec-Mayan which was created during the time Toltecs migrating from the north integrated with local Maya peoples.


In the Mayan world, Tikal is the second largest of the ancient ruined cities of the Mayan civilization as Calakamul is the largest. Found in El Petn, Guatemala, where regions are named by departments instead of states, Tikal recently become one of Guatemla’s most preferred tourist spot. Nearby the cities of Flores as well as Santa Elena Tikal is also among the list of best protected Mayan archaeological sites in Latin America with Chichen Itza together with Machu Pichu.

According to historians, the name Tikal was taken from the word, Ti-akal, a Mayan place name which implies “At the Reservoir.Variations in Roman spelling aside, the name could be a hybrid of the original Proto-Mayan word. The term, even so, refers to the several large and partly artificial water basins seen at the center of the ruins.


As the main cultural as well as population centres in Maya civilization Tikal’s amazing architecture dates to the 4th century BC, when it reached its pinnacle throughout the Classic Period ca. 200 AD to 900 AD. Where, based on some sources, the site focused the Maya region politically.It’s debated whether the Maya of the region been able to have a connection with local population. Hieroglyphics found in Palenque as well as Chichen Itza show that there might have been a combination of cultures between the Aztecs of Central Mexico, Mixteca and also the Maya of Chiapas, producing distinctive subcultures of an old pacifist, or non-sacrifice practicing civilization.

During the 4th century A.D., Tikal was even conquered by Teotihuacan according to evidence found. Right after the end of the Late Classic Period, simply no new significant monuments were developed at Tikal and there’s evidence that elite palaces were destroyed. After these, there was a gradual decline in the population and followed by the abandonment of the site by the end of the 10th century.

Not like the its Mayan cousin, Gran Acropolis Ednza in Campeche, Mexico, Tikal had no water besides what was accumulated from rainwater and stored in subterranean storage facilities referred to as chultuns. The ancient underground facilities were used by archaeologists working in Tikal in the last century to store water for personal use. The lack of rivers, lakes and springs in the primary vicinity of Tikal highlights a prodigious feat: developing a primary city with simply supplies of stored seasonal rainfall.

Tikal actually flourished due to its intensive agricultural techniques, which were a lot more advanced compared to the slash & burn strategies actually theorized by archeologists. Simply relying on seasonal rainfall, Tikal was left to experience long months or more of drought which assumed to have lead to the collapse of the Classic Maya.

Many other hypotheses declare that Tikal was never an important power in the Mayan world, yet a subject of the empire civilization organized by El Caracol and Calakmul. And also various other sources point out that Tikal was a prominent influence in the southern Maya. We all do know, nonetheless, that Tikal was usually at war and inscriptions refer to alliances and clash with some other Maya states, which includes UaxactunTikal Temple Caracol, and Calakmul.Tikal was defeated by Caracol at the end of the Early Classic; it was Caracol who took the place of Tikal being the paramount center in the southern Maya lowlands. Apparently another defeat was experienced at the hands of Dos Pilas in the middle 7th century, with the possible seize and also sacrifice of Tikal’s ruler during the time.

Akin to the numerous archaeological sites in the Mayan World, just a fraction of the constructions in Tikal have been entirely excavated. With intense tourism in and out of Tikal virtually year-round and also poor funds excavations haven’t made important advances despite many years of archaeological work. Essentially the most dominant of the structures that have been excavated are Temples I – VI, each of which facilitates a temple structure on their summits. Most of these pyramids are more than 60 meters high (200 feet). They were numbered sequentially in the early survey of the site.

Tikal is a great Mayan city. To find out more on Tikal and other Mayan history see the Mayan History pages. In case you’d like to see Tikal in real life, you shouldn’t miss Tikal and El Peru Canoe Tour, a great way to see Tikal.

Author: Frank D. Gardner | Source: Travel News [October 06, 2011]

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