Idea #711 – Exploring the remains of Tikal in Guatemala
Tikal National Park is located in the province of Peten, in northern Guatemala, in a vast forest area often called the Mayan forest, which extends to neighboring Mexico and Belize. Tikal National Park comprises 57,600 ha of wetlands, savannah, tropical hardwood and palm forests, and thousands of architectural and artistic remains of the Mayan civilization since the pre-classical period (600 BC), until the decline and fall of this urban center around 900 AD It is one of the few World Heritage properties inscribed on both natural and cultural criteria, both for its extraordinary biodiversity and for its archaeological significance.
Tikal, pre-Columbian major political, economic and military center, is one of the most important archaeological complexes left by the Mayan civilization. An inner urban area of nearly 400 hectares contains the main monuments and architectural elements that include palaces, temples, ceremonial platforms, small and medium residences, ball courts, terraces, roads and large and small places. Many of the existing monuments have preserved decorated surfaces, including stone carvings and murals with hieroglyphic inscriptions, which illustrate the city’s dynastic history and its relations with urban centers as far apart as Teotihuacan and Calakmul in Mexico, Copan in Honduras or Caracol in Belize. A wider area of key archaeological significance, of approximately 1200 ha, covers residential areas and historic water reservoirs, now known as “aguadas”.
The research revealed numerous constructions, carved monuments and other elements that testify to very sophisticated technical, intellectual and artistic achievements, developed from the arrival of the first settlers (800 BC) to the last stages of historical occupation around the year 900. Tikal has improved our understanding not only of an extraordinary extinct civilization, but also more broadly of cultural evolution. The diversity and quality of the architectural and sculptural ensembles that had ceremonial, administrative and residential functions are illustrated in a number of exceptional places, such as the Great Square, the Lost World Complex, the complex of twin pyramid temples, as well as in ball playgrounds and irrigation structures.
Where is it?