February 11th, 2009 – by: geokid
Tikal is one of the largest archaeological sites and urban centers of the Mesoamerican Maya civilization. It is located in the archaeological region of the Petén Basin in what is now northern Guatemala. Situated in the department of El Petén at Latutude 17°13′19″ North, Longitude 89°37′22″ West. Tikal is part of Guatemala's Tikal National Park and was named a UNESCO world Heritage site in 1979. The closest towns are Flores and Santa Elena. Flores is about 40 miles to the southwest of the ruins. There is no doubt that Tikal was one of the three or four major cultural and population centers of the Maya civilization. Monumental construction at this site began prior to 300 BC. Tikal reached its height of development during the Classic Period (200 AD to 900 AD).
Tikal was the dominate Maya city during this time. Controlling and orchestrating regional politics and driving the regional economy. There is evidence that Tikal was conquered by Teotihuacan prior to 400 AD. After 900 AD, no new major monumental construction project were started. A number of elite palaces were burned. The population began to decline from 900 AD onward. Tikal was abandoned by 1000 AD. The ruins are in a lowland rainforest comprised of ceiba (Ceiba pentandra), the sacred tree of the Maya; cedar (Cedrela odorata) and mahogany (Swietenia). The animal life includes agouti, coatis, foxes, spider monkeys, howler monkeys, harpy eagles, falcons, ocellated turkeys, guans, toucans, parrots, jaguars, jaguarundis, and cougars.
There are no springs, rivers, and lakes in the immediate vicinity of Tikal. Collection and storage of rainwater was the only water supply. Modern archaeologists reconditioned several of the ancient underground facilities to store water for their own use. The reliance on seasonal rainfall left Tikal vulnerable to prolonged drought, which is now thought to play a major role in the abandonment of Tikal