Temple V – Tikal, Guatemala

We specifically took a trip into Guatemala to visit Tikal and it didn’t disappoint. Temple V is one of the major pyramids of this historic site. Built around 700 AD and standing nearly 200 feet tall the temple likely served as the resting place for a yet to be identified ruler.

Tikal founded somewhere around 900 BC rose to power between the years of 200 to 900 AD and stood as the most powerful city in the Mayan empire controlling most of the region remotely. Unfortunately, the success of the city was also likely a major contributor to its demise as the city swelled in population to over 120,000 but sharply declined after 900 AD as the city likely ran out of resources to continue to support the bulging population. Ultimately, Tikal was abandoned and the reason still to this day is unknown as there is no written inscriptions dating after 910 AD. Many have speculated the reasons why but one of the key reasons is a failure of the civilization to adapt to changing ecological circumstances and they just simply used up all of the lands resources without after adjusting consumption.

Temple V – Tikal Guatemala

Temple V Tikal Guatemala

Ultimately, the sacred temple (like all the others) was overrun with squatters who left household rubbish and stripped valuables from the once immaculate palaces. They too abandoned the city though at some point and the structures would sit untouched for hundreds of years as the jungle grew around it and buried much of the city. In fact, when they began the excavation of Temple V in the 1950s it was almost completely buried by the jungle. It is hard to imagine a world power city being abandoned in the fashion that Tikal was.

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2 thoughts on “Temple V – Tikal, Guatemala

  1. Looking back at these ancient civilisations, I wonder if we are starting to repeat history with our actions. Our cities have gone way beyond large metropolises supported by agricultural areas surrounding them. We have cities so large that their boundary encroaches in smaller towns and villages and then engulfs them. Will our future generations look back at an abandoned New York and ask themselves “why did they all leave?”.

    • I thought about typing something like that as well when I was writing the post but then I thought there was absolutely no way that could happen but don’t you think the Mayans probably felt that way too? As did the Romans and other civilizations that have wound up abandoned and subsequently found and excavated by people hundreds of years later. Really it is a premise that sometimes the movies tackle like the Will Smith movie (blanking on the name now) but others have done similar stories where civilization as we know it crumbles and the world is left with a bunch of abandoned structures and one person stumbles upon it following the apocalypse. It is still too far fetched for me to imagine Chicago or NYC dealing with the same fate but who the hell knows – 1000 years later it can all change.

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