A Look at Guatemala’s Rich Maya History


| 12/23/2016 9:57:00 AM


Tags: Marilyn Jones, Guatemala, Maya, UNESCO, Tikal, rainforest, archeology,

Marilyn JonesFrom the top of a Maya pyramid, the view of the jungle and other pyramids was something I had imagined other adventure travelers witnessing, not me. But I was here with the help of encouraging guides and a man-made staircase alongside the ancient structure. It was from this vantage point that George Lucas filmed scenes for his first Star Wars movie in 1977.

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I sat for a long time taking in the magic of the moment. Magic is actually a perfect word for Guatemala, the Maya Culture and Tikal National Park located almost 200 miles north of Guatemala City. Visiting the ruins of the ancient city was one of many Maya discoveries I made with Bella Guatemala Travel, a California-based tour company specializing in Guatemala culture, history, and natural beauty.

The UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the largest archaeological sites and urban centers of pre-Columbian Maya civilizations. Dating to 4th century BC, the city dominated much of the Maya region. Population estimates vary from 10,000 to as high as 90,000.

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The causes of the Maya empire's collapse remain a mystery; wars, famine, overpopulation, and resource depletion have all been blamed. Tikal, according to historians and archeologists, began to suffer from deforestation, erosion, and a decline in population. The site was completely abandoned by the end of the 10th century, and the rainforest claimed the ruins for nearly a thousand years.




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