TIKAL: MAYA RUINS
tikal, located in northern guatemala, was the mightiest of all maya cities. it was settled since several centuries b.c., and developed strongly in the second to fourth century a.d. its peak population is estimated as 100000.
in about the tenth century tikal broke down. archaeologists assume two reasons for this disaster - overpopulation and overdemanded food provision by the farms.
the new 'owners', the spanish empire, did not care for tikal, and eventually it got forgotten. only in 1850 it got re-detected by explorers, and then massive research began. tikal was completely surrounded by jungle, and this image shows that - only from a plane you could see it, at least the main temples. in 1951 a small airstrip was built, which facilitated research considerably.
tikal's largest ruins are "temple 1" (left) and "temple 2" (right) , both survived 1000 years quite well. the excavations in tikal's central area are still underway
here is temple 2, with still complete grand stairs up to the holy branch. and then - - temple 1, the by far most admired and most photographed building. it actually became a symbol for guatemala's rich past.
the whole area of tikal is now a national park of guatemala, and in 1979 it became a unesco world heritage site.