Tikal City of Voices

09 de Octubre 2015

Tikal, in Peten, is home to the highest Mayan Pyramid known to date, second only to "La Danta" a buried temple at El Mirador in Guatemala. The most important historical stages of Mayan sites converge at Tikal by Ah Cacau the restored kingdom or Jaguar Paw.

Tikal City of Voices

Tikal is the complex-Mayan city, most famous around the world and home to the tallest pyramid: the Temple IV of the two-headed serpent, 65 + feet high. This temple is second only to "La Danta", north of Guatemala in El Mirador (still under excavation).

Tikal came to house 60,000  people who lived under the direction of 33 rulers for nearly 800 years. It is one of the few Mayan cities that survived the collapse of the Preclassic period, to bloom in the Classic, a transition that few managed to stay. The remains show traces of Teotihuacan influence, both cultural and architectural.

History of Tikal

Investigations with carbon reveal  the ancient  path of Tikal as a settlement of up to 600 years before Christ. Its existence was consolidated in the Maya Preclassic period, with the power to reach later.

The work of the first ruler Ehb Yax 'Chak Tok Xook is praised, but Ich'aak is the one who excels  some historical importance between Tikal dynastic origins (360 to 378). The traces that refer to his reign, have prominent artistic detail and reveal a relationship with Teotihuacan, a city in Mexico more than 1,000 miles away.

As for the construction,the remaining dates indicate that the technique was based on series of platforms with different levels, one above the other, emerged simultaneously in both cities of Tikal and Teotihuacan. They speculate also a technique that arises from the influence of this second city over Tikal.

Nace el Fuego reaches Tikal

The city of Peru Waka gives testimony  to the arrival of an emissary of Teotihuacan that reached the region in 378. The evidence suggests that it was a mixture of noble and warrior emissary. His name is Siyaj K'ak 'which translates as "the birth of the Fire."

Eight days after going through Peru Waka Nace el Fuego reached Tikal and the story takes an unprecedented turn. Old workshops describe the arrival of this emissary, accompanied by armed warriors. No evidence of fighting (or not known until today). Chak Tok ruled the Ich'aak and ended his reign (in death),then the offspring of Tikal is replaced by a new line linked to Teotihuacan.

Uaxactun, a city north of Tikal refers to the arrival of the Birth of Fire and the institution of a new ruler. There are indications of other impositions of power in the area. There is no trace of war but the mentions of these events revolve around the concept of conquest.

Contrary to popular belief, the dynastic succession was not so common, but the arrival at the Mayan kingdom begins to establish it as the way of spending power between governments.

Weakened power of Tikal

History suggests that the dark phase of the power of Tikal begins during the days of the "Lady of Tikal in 511, a noble of only 6 years old. Taking range as young queen and her government was developed in the shadow of others. Then Kaloomte 'Balam,  Gara de Ave and then Wak Chan Kawiil.

As  ruler number 21, Wak Chan Kawiil disappeared (probably murdered) around 562 when Calakmul (enemy city to the north) entered the scene. This event is known as the "War of the Stars." Tikal had exercised power over other cities governing institutions or alliances. Calakmul had begun a strategy of attack on this allied city, after which he entered the city of Tikal. The dates  curiously correspond with the drop of power from Teotihuacan.

Tikal  began an existence  post-conquest of Calakmul. Tikal's power seemed to be in harmony. Calakmul launched a strong second attack during the administration of Yuknoom the Great (noble of Calakmul).

The ruler called Nuun Ujole had regained strength in Tikal, but fled during the deployment of Calakmul. Nuun Ujole took Dos Pilas (Mayan city in the area of Petexbatun and recorded  friction with Tikal). Such a feat did not last for Chan Balaj, and  Kawiil NuunUjole defeats with the help of Calakmul.

The original power is restored

Tikal and Calakmul defeated the "Ruler A", known as Jasaw Chan Kawiil I, King Jaguar Paw, Great Jaguar or Ah Cacau (Lord Chocolate) emerging from the shadows to release Tikal with the power of Calakmul.

During the confrontation he captured Yich'aak K'ak who had to be sacrificed. While preparations for this show has not been determined what role Yich'aak played: politician, king or noble. But we know he belonged to the highest echelons of power.

Rebirth of Tikal

Ah Cacau promotes a movement to restore power in Tikal, manifested not only in construction but in the details of the memorials. Such details are manifested even in the Stela 16 showing Ah Cacau invested with all its power with an outfit that returns to retail roots and ornamental Teotihuacan.

Ah Cacau's reign is recorded from 682 to 734. His grave (Burial 116) was found at the foot of the temple Great Jaguar (Temple I) of the Central Plaza of Tikal which has at its crest (although damaged) the effigy of Ah Cacau, granted and protected by a rampant jaguar.
It would  follow in the power of Yikin Chan Kawiil, which is often characterized by 734 to 746 buildings and military deployments. He defeated a nearby city called Yaxa linked to El Peru Waka (Yaxá not Yaxhá). Soon the turn of the city of Peru Waka would come, to be defeated the same as El Naranjo.

Yikin Chan Kawiil was followed by a ruler that has not been given a name, then Nuun Ujole Kinich (reviving the original name Nuun Ujole), then Dark Sun and another. But Tikal already had problems, the natural decay of a great city. A new ruling also revived an old name by calling itself Jasaw Chan Kawiil II.

The end of the city approached, it suffered the same decline of the Mayan cities of the kingdom and its population diminished. There is evidence of migration and looting in the same city. Reviving the name of a former warlord was not enough and Tikal with all its might,would never shine as the two previous times.

Thus the city was abandoned and it began to gain ground vegetation, obscuring the Acropolis. It was to be discovered in time of the Spanish conquest by a group of Europeans that were lost in the jungle. They left with records of Tikal in their writings. Tikal remained untouched until modern times.

Tikal: Archaeological tourist destination

Tikal National Park is a protected area where nature and archaeological remains are added into a unique experience. Tikal can be known in a full day, some tourists take two days.

On the site you will find a wonderful archaeological museum that collects samples of pottery, carvings and Mayan sculptures.

On Sunday,  Guatemalan citizen tourists may enter the park free of charge. You can enter on Saturday and the ticket serves for Sunday aswell(if you do not go out of the park). From Tikal you can visit Uaxactún, which is located 24 miles north and is an archaeological site of great beauty and peace. The same entry ticket to Tikal serves for Uaxactun. Tikal can be visited every day, Monday to Sunday, from 7:00 to 16:30.

Accommodations at Tikal

In the park, there are restaurants and dining rooms (dining rooms are recommended for a better experience). There are a couple of hotels within the protected area, some offer the option of camping on site. No camping is allowed in the park itself at Tikal, ask the guards for camping areas. NO ATMs, there is no electrical wiring because of the natural protection of nature.

How to arrive at Tikal

Tikal is located in the department of Peten, Guatemala, to the north. There are three routes to get there:

Air Route: via the Mundo Maya International Airport, where flights arrive daily from the city of Guatemala and other countries. More information about flights can be found on the Air Transport page for the Ruta Maya. From the airport, located in Flores,there are bus services up to Tikal.

Land Route: You can get to Flores in the luxury bus services available in Guatemala, making connections with same bus service from Belize, Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador. Visit the Inland Route Maya for more information.

Traveling on your own from Guatemala City: take one of two major access routes. The first and most famous is the East, through Izabal (Rio Dulce) and from there take the road without detours to Flores Peten. It takes approximately 8 hours.

The second most popular route climbs up Verapaz until Coban,  then deviates up to Chisec until you reach Sayaxche, then cross in a  ferry. The road continues with several sections that lead to San Benito and Flores Peten. Both routes are in perfect condition, paved and have two lanes. Sayaxché is a more open route. 

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Arqueología Guatemala