Deep within the tropical rainforests of Guatemala lies Tikal, one of the largest cities of the Maya civilization. Serving as an administrative, ritual and cultural center for the surrounding
urban and agricultural regions, Tikal was home to large populations of people. During the time period between 600 and 800 A.D., Tikal's population grew to as many as 60,000 citizens, making the population density of the city several times greater than
the average city in Europe or America during this time.
The city of Tikal occupied a six-square mile area and included as many as 10,000 individual structures, ranging from temple-pyramids to thatched-roof huts. The temple-pyramid was by far the
most impressive of the architectural feats and towered above all other structures of the Maya city. Built from hand-cut limestone blocks, the temple-pyramids contained only one or two narrow rooms and mainly was used for ceremonial purposes.
David A. Hodell
Department of Geology, University of Florida
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