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The Pyramids of the Ancient City Tikal
Posted In: Ancient Civilizations  10/22/11
By: Yona Williams

Egypt is not the only place where you can see pyramids, as these structures are found in other parts of the world, including Guatemala and the ancient city of Tikal. In this article, you will learn more about the site and some of the attractions that tourists come to see.

Tikal is home to five large pyramids. While archeologists gave the structure Roman numerals for better identification, the pyramids are best known by their accompanying temples. Located in the Great Plaza, you will find two of the pyramids. The first is home to the Temple of the Jaguar, which is also where the tomb of Hasaw Chan K'awil resides. The pyramid is 148 feet tall and dates back to around 721. The Jaguar Temple was constructed shortly after the death of the king as a place to store his tomb. The king's tomb is known as Tomb 116 and is located at the center of the pyramid. Inside the grave, goods include jade, pearls, seashells, and stingray spines, which are symbols of human sacrifice.  

The second pyramid in the Great Plaza is known for the Temple of the Masks. Dating back to around 715, the second structure measures 138 feet. Tourists are able to climb this structure to enjoy spectacular views. The Temple of the Masks is called so because of the masks that decorates the central stairway. To date, no tomb has been discovered in the pyramid, but the structure is believed to pay homage for the wife of Hasaw Chan K'awil. Before Pyramid II lost its roof, the first and second structures were intended to be a matching pair – set at the same size.

Located west of the West Plaza is Pyramid III, which dates back to around 810. Measuring 180 feet in the air, the structure has not been excavated, and because of this, is not open to visitors. The fourth pyramid is found at end of the Tozzer Causeway. Home to the Temple of the Two-Headed Serpent, it dates back to 741 and stands 213 feet into the air. This is the tallest pyramid at Tikal, which provides the best views. The oldest pyramid at Tikal is called Pyramid V and dates back from 600 to 650. Found near the Plaza of the Seven Temples, the structure measures 187 feet. Since it is fully restored, visitors can climb the pyramid.

The Great Plaza

Situated in the center of the ancient city, you will find the Great Plaza – an open grassy region that covers 1 ½ acres of land. Monuments not only surround the plaza, but it is home to two large pyramids of the Mayans that date back to the 700s. The oldest part of the plaza is called the North Acropolis – it is thought to date back to 250 AD.

Northern Acropolis

The ruins of 12 main temples and around 100 other structures are found by the North Acropolis. Members of the ruling class were buried at this site for about 500 years. The first temples and tombs were constructed on the North Acropolis around 100 BC. A rebuilding period took place in 250 AD and underwent renovation a couple of times thereafter. Excavations that have since taken place have uncovered early remains, such as Pre-Classic stone masks that measure two meters high.


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