Tikal: The iconic ancient Maya city in Guatemala

The ancient Maya city of Tikal, in modern-day Guatemala, flourished between roughly 600 B.C. and A.D. 900. Starting out as a modest series of hamlets, it became a great Maya city-state with more than two dozen major pyramids.

The name “Tikal” is a modern-day Maya name that means “at the waterhole.” In ancient times, it was known as Mutul and was at the center of a powerful Maya kingdom, archaeologist Robert Sharer, who was a curator at the Penn Museum, wrote in his book “The Ancient Maya, sixth edition (opens in new tab)” (Stanford University Press, 2005). Tikal is one of the largest archaeological sites in Central America and is encompassed by Tikal National Park.

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