Tikal was a major city of
the Maya. At least 10,000 people lived within its six
The maps show 3000 temples,
palaces, shrines, ceremonial platforms, residences, ball courts,
terraces and plazas.
Tikal is located in the middle of Tikal National Park, a wildlife
preserve covering 222 square miles and the first
park of its kind in Central America.
The park is a magnificent jungle and wildlife preserve. Some of
the rainforest trees that grow in the park are Spanish cedar, ceiba,
a tree sacred to the Maya, zapotes, mahogany and chicle,
which is an ingredient in chewing gum.
Living among the ruins are groups of spider
monkeys, hundreds of species of birds, including hawks,
hummingbirds, parrots, and golden turkeys. Nearby are jaguar,
puma, ocelot, pecarry, small deer, and many other animals, some
of which are endangered.
In the main ceremonial area there are 200 stone
monuments, known as stelae. Stelae
were elaborately carved with glyphs, a form of writing, and other
Stelae were mostly carved in southern
portion of Maya lands especially around Tikal.
Nearly 100,000 tools, ceremonial objects, personal ornaments, and other items
have been discovered. They tell many stories about the daily Maya life.
Their ceramics were especially beautiful.
Smaller homes were arranged in clusters around
a central plaza. Most people were buried beneath the houses they
had lived in. Along with the bodies were ritual objects that seemed
to have daily life uses as well.
The Great Plaza is surrounded by the two largest temples. Nearby is a cluster
of temples known as the North Acropolis.
One temple is called the Giant
Jaguar. Built in AD 870, it
towers 145 feet above the Great Plaza. Many tombs are beneath
and inside the structure. Other groups are called the Lost
World Complex, the Plaza of the Seven Temples, the Twin Pyramid
Complex, and the Acropolis.