Tikal is an Archaeological Maya city located in the northern Petén province of Guatemala. During the time of the Maya Empire, Tikal was a very important and influential city, controlling vast stretches of territory and dominating smaller city-states. Tikal fell into decline around 900 A.D. or so and was eventually abandoned. It is currently an important archaeological and tourism site.
Archaeological records near Tikal go back to about 1000 B.C. and by 300 B.C. or so it was already a thriving city. By the Maya Early Classic era (roughly 300 A.D.) it was an important urban center, thriving as other nearby cities declined. The Tikal royal lineage traced their roots to Yax Ehb’ Xook, a powerful early ruler who lived sometime during the Pre-classic period.
The Maya civilization began to crumble around 700 A.D. and by 900 A.D. or so it was a shadow of its former self. Teotihuacán, once such a powerful influence on Maya politics, itself fell into ruin about 700 and was no longer a factor in Maya life, although its cultural influences in art and architecture remained. Historians disagree on why the Maya civilization collapsed: it may have been due to famine, disease, warfare, climate change or any combination of those factors. Tikal also declined, the last recorded date on a Tikal monument is 869 A.D. and historians think that by 950 A.D. the city was essentially abandoned.
Tikal is one of Guatemala’s most important tourist sites, enjoyed annually by thousands of visitors from all over the world. Tikal National Park, which included the archaeological complex and the surrounding rainforest, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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