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Sunday
Jul082018

The ancient Mayan city of Tikal

Yesterday we hiked through Tikal, the capital of the ancient Mayan kingdom Mutul from ~200 to 900 CE. Mutul was once a thriving kingdom that controlled much of Guatemala. The city contained at least 10,000 structures and had a likely population of ~100,000. At its peak, Tikal was the centre of Mayan culture, art and technology. Tikal collapsed in the end from climate change and environmental degradation, with the land no longer able to support cities, and the civilisation degenerating into isolated villages. What remains of Tikal are largely the temples built of stone, rising up out of the jungle that has blanketed them for a thousand years. We can imagine the lives of the high priests, living in splendor and making human sacrifices in these temples; the lives of the common people of Mutul are much more ephemeral and we may never know what their society was really like.

  

The civilisation collapsed, the city was retaken by the jungle. A thousand years and more has allowed the forest to return and with it, wildlife. During our walk we saw a pair of spider monkey leaping through the trees, a coati sniffing out bugs to eat, a woodpecker feeding its chick and an Emerald Toucanette guarding its nest.

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