Preclassic[ edit ] There are traces of early agriculture at the site dating as far back as BC, in the Middle Preclassic. One of these had elaborate paintings on the outer walls showing human figures against a scrollwork background, painted in yellow, black, pink and red. According to later hieroglyphic records, the dynasty was founded by Yax Ehb Xook, perhaps in the 1st century AD. In the Early Classic Tikal rapidly developed into the most dynamic city in the Maya region, stimulating the development of other nearby Maya cities.
The site was defeated at the end of the Early Classic by Caracol, which rose to take Tikal's place as the paramount center in the southern Maya lowlands. As early as AD Teotihuacan had embassies in Tikal. Spearthrower Owl may even have been the ruler of Teotihuacan. The site became an outpost of Tikal, shielding it from hostile cities further north, and also became a trade link to the Caribbean.
Tikal became the key ally and trading partner of Teotihuacan in the Maya lowlands. After being conquered by Teotihuacan, Tikal rapidly dominated the northern and eastern Peten.
Uaxactun, together with smaller towns in the region, were absorbed into Tikal's kingdom. Additional fortifications were probably also built to the south. The kings of these two capitals adopted the title kaloomte', a term that has not been precisely translated but that implies something akin to " high king ". She seems never to have ruled in her own right, rather being partnered with male co-rulers. The first of these was Kaloomte' B'alam, who seems to have had a long career as a general at Tikal before becoming co-ruler and 19th in the dynastic sequence.
The Lady of Tikal herself seems not have been counted in the dynastic numbering. It appears she was later paired with lord "Bird Claw", who is presumed to be the otherwise unknown 20th ruler. Tikal hiatus[ edit ] The main plaza during winter solstice celebrations In the mid 6th century, Caracol seems to have allied with Calakmul and defeated Tikal, closing the Early Classic. In the latter half of the 6th century AD, a serious crisis befell the city, with no new stelae being erected and with widespread deliberate mutilation of public sculpture.
During the hiatus period, at least one ruler of Tikal took refuge with Janaab' Pakal of Palenque , another of Calakmul's victims. B'alaj Chan K'awiil was captured by the king of Calakmul but, instead of being sacrificed, he was re-instated on his throne as a vassal of his former enemy,  and attacked Tikal in , forcing Nuun Ujol Chaak , the then king of Tikal, to temporarily abandon the city.
The first two rulers of Dos Pilas continued to use the Mutal emblem glyph of Tikal, and they probably felt that they had a legitimate claim to the throne of Tikal itself. Tikal counterattacked against Dos Pilas in , driving B'alaj Chan K'awiil into an exile that lasted five years.
He initiated a programme of new construction and turned the tables on Calakmul when, in , he captured the enemy noble and threw the enemy state into a long decline from which it never fully recovered. After this, Calakmul never again erected a monument celebrating a military victory. Even after this, formal war attire illustrated on monuments was Teotihuacan style.
These two rulers were responsible for much of the impressive architecture visible today. Impressive architecture was still built but few hieroglyphic inscriptions refer to later rulers. The sites of Ixlu and Jimbal had by now inherited the once exclusive Mutal emblem glyph. Tikal and its immediate surroundings seem to have lost most of their population between and and central authority seems to have collapsed rapidly.
This was the last monument erected at Tikal before the city finally fell into silence. The former satellites of Tikal, such as Jimbal and Uaxactun, did not last much longer, erecting their final monuments in By the end of the 9th century the vast majority of Tikal's population had deserted the city, its royal palaces were occupied by squatters and simple thatched dwellings were being erected in the city's ceremonial plazas.
The squatters blocked some doorways in the rooms they reoccupied in the monumental structures of the site and left rubbish that included a mixture of domestic refuse and non-utilitarian items such as musical instruments. These inhabitants reused the earlier monuments for their own ritual activities, far removed from those of the royal dynasty that had erected them.
Some monuments were vandalized and some were moved to new locations. Before its final abandonment all respect for the old rulers had disappeared, with the tombs of the North Acropolis being explored for jade and the easier-to-find tombs were looted. After , Tikal was all but deserted, although a remnant population may have survived in perishable huts interspersed among the ruins.
Even these final inhabitants abandoned the city in the 10th or 11th centuries and the rainforest claimed the ruins for the next thousand years. Some of Tikal's population may have migrated to the Peten Lakes region, which remained heavily populated in spite of a plunge in population levels in the first half of the 9th century. The fall of Tikal was a blow to the heart of Classic Maya civilization , the city having been at the forefront of courtly life, art and architecture for over a thousand years, with an ancient ruling dynasty.
Shook , field director of the Tikal Project; Shook was also instrumental in having Tikal established as Guatemala's first National Park. It seems that local people never forgot about Tikal and they guided Guatemalan expeditions to the ruins in the s. Artist Eusebio Lara accompanied them and their account was published in Germany in Maudslay in and the early 20th century.
Pioneering archaeologists started to clear, map and record the ruins in the s. In the Tikal project began to map the city on a scale not previously seen in the Maya area. Shook and later by William Coe of the university investigated the North Acropolis and the Central Plaza from to A New Hope , which premiered in There are also seven courts for playing the Mesoamerican ballgame , including a set of 3 in the Seven Temples Plaza, a unique feature in Mesoamerica.
The limestone used for construction was local and quarried on-site. The depressions formed by the extraction of stone for building were plastered to waterproof them and were used as reservoirs , together with some waterproofed natural depressions.
The main plazas were surfaced with stucco and laid at a gradient that channelled rainfall into a system of canals that fed the reservoirs. A huge set of earthworks discovered by Dennis E. Population estimates place the demographic size of the site between 10, and 90,, and possibly , in the surrounding area. Recently, a project exploring the defensive earthworks has shown that the scale of the earthworks is highly variable and that in many places it is inconsequential as a defensive feature.
In addition, some parts of the earthwork were integrated into a canal system. The earthwork of Tikal varies significantly in coverage from what was originally proposed and it is much more complex and multifaceted than originally thought.
These linked the Great Plaza with Temple 4 located about metres 2, feet to the west and the Temple of the Inscriptions about 1 kilometre 0. They assisted the passage everyday traffic during the rain season and also served as dams. A large bas-relief is carved onto limestone bedrock upon the course of the causeway just south of Group H.
It depicts two bound captives and dates to the Late Classic. On the north side it is bordered by the North Acropolis and on the south by the Central Acropolis. It is a complex group with construction beginning in the Preclassic Period, around BC. It developed into a funerary complex for the ruling dynasty of the Classic Period, with each additional royal burial adding new temples on top of the older structures. Eight temple pyramids were built in the 6th century AD, each of them had an elaborate roofcomb and a stairway flanked by masks of the gods.
By the 9th century AD, 43 stelae and 30 altars had been erected in the North Acropolis; 18 of these monuments were carved with hieroglyphic texts and royal portraits. The North Acropolis continued to receive burials into the Postclassic Period. It is bordered on the east side by a row of nearly identical temples, by palaces on the south and west sides and by an unusual triple ballcourt on the north side.
By AD — its architectural style was influenced by the great metropolis of Teotihuacan in the Valley of Mexico , including the use of the talud-tablero form.
The complex dates to the Late Classic and consists of palace-type structures and is one of the largest groups of its type at Tikal. It has two stories but most of the rooms are on the lower floor, a total of 29 vaulted chambers. The remains of two further chambers belong to the upper storey. One of the entrances to the group was framed by a gigantic mask. It is bordered by temples dating to the Late Classic. They vary in size but consist of two pyramids facing each other on an east—west axis.
A row of plain stelae is placed immediately to the west of the eastern pyramid and to the north of the pyramids, and lying roughly equidistant from them, there is usually a sculpted stela and altar pair. On the south side of these complexes there is a long vaulted building containing a single room with nine doorways.
The entire complex was built at once and these complexes were built at year or k'atun intervals during the Late Classic. It was once thought that these complexes were unique to Tikal but rare examples have now been found at other sites, such as Yaxha and Ixlu , and they may reflect the extent of Tikal's political dominance in the Late Classic.
It is close to the Maler Causeway. The most prominent surviving buildings include six very large pyramids, labelled Temples I — VI, each of which support a temple structure on their summits. Some of these pyramids are over 60 metres feet high.
They were numbered sequentially during the early survey of the site. It is estimated that each of these major temples could have been built in as little as two years. The outermost lintel is plain but the two inner lintels were carved, some of the beams were removed in the 19th century and their location is unknown, while others were taken to museums in Europe.