John Pohl, THE CODICES John Pohl's


TIKAL  (circa A.D. 200-800)

At the same time that Teotihuacán was emerging to dominate the Basin of México, powerful Maya city states were expanding throughout the lowland jungles of Central America. Drawing upon both an earlier tradition of monumental architecture from the PreClassic titans to the north, El Mirador and Nakbé, and an incipient writing system developed in the southern highlands, Maya lords not only constructed stunning pyramids, temples, and palace complexes but also commemorated major events in their reigns with hieroglyphic texts carved on stone monuments now called stelae.

The most enduring of all Classic Maya ceremonial centers was Tikal. Founded during the PreClassic, Tikal later emerged at the end of the third century A.D. to dominate an intricate web of surrounding chiefdoms eventually becoming a metropolis of over 60,000 people at its height in A.D. 700. To establish a divine monument to their ancestors, Tikal’s rulers constructed a massive necropolis of superimposed tombs and towering temples until their fortunes took a turn for the worse at the hands of two rival states: Caracol and Calakmul. A hiatus in construction ensued but lasted less than a century before the great warlord, Hasaw Kan K’awil re-established the city’s hegemony. Tikal then continued to dominate political affairs throughout the Central Petén until the end of the ninth century when the city was abandoned during the so-called Maya “collapse”. Nevertheless, because the site represents the longest continuous occupation of any major Classic Maya ceremonial center, Tikal continues to be employed by archaeologists as the “anchor” for their excavations and epigraphic studies throughout the Central Petén.

Image - Tikal North Acropolis

Tikal’s main plaza is bounded by the North Acropolis with its multiple temples dedicated to the memory of its early Classic rulers, and the Central Acropolis which served as the main palace during the Late Classic era. Temple I and Temple II face each other across the east-west axis of Tikal’s main plaza. They were constructed to honor the memory of Tikal’s Late Classic lord Hasaw Kan K’awil and his consort Lady Twelve Macaw. Click on Image for more detail.

Image - Portion of Stela 31

Stela 31 features an elaborate hieroglyphic text detailing prominent members of Tikal’s Early Classic dynasty. Click on Image for more detail.

Image - Stela 16

Stela 16 portrays Hasaw Kan K’awil wearing elaborate ritual dress for the celebration of an important period ending ceremony. The accompanying text lists the lord’s titles and dates the ritual. Click on Image for more detail.

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