Tikal Temple II

Last updated
Temple II seen from the North Acropolis to the northeast Tikal Temple II.jpg
Temple II seen from the North Acropolis to the northeast

Tikal Temple II (or the Temple of the Masks, alternatively labelled by archaeologists as Tikal Structure 5D-2) is a Mesoamerican pyramid at the Maya archaeological site of Tikal in the Petén Department of northern Guatemala. The temple was built in the Late Classic Period in a style reminiscent of the Early Classic. [1] Temple II is located on the west side of the Great Plaza, opposite Temple I. [2] Temple II was built by the king Jasaw Chan K'awiil I in honour of his wife, Lady Kalajuun Une' Mo'. [3] Temple II had a single wooden sculpted lintel that bears the portrait of a royal woman who may have been the wife of Jasaw Chan K'awiil I, who was entombed beneath Temple I. [4] Lady Kalajuun Une' Mo', whose name means "Twelve Macaw Tails", was also important for being the mother of Jasaw Chan K'awill I's heir. [5] In fact her son Yik'in Chan K'awiil oversaw the completion of Temple II when he became king. [6]


Temple II was visited by Modesto Méndez, the governor of Petén, in 1848 on the first expedition to the ruins. [7] Preliminary excavations of Temple II started in 1958. [8] On 21 December 2012, more than 7,000 tourists visited Tikal to celebrate the 2012 phenomenon and the supposed end of the world. Many of these tourists climbed the stairs of the pyramid, causing reported damages. [9]

The structure

The pyramid is a squat, massive structure dating to the 8th century AD. [10] Today it stands 38 metres (125 ft) high and is the most thoroughly restored of the major temples at Tikal. [11] Its original height would have been closer to 42 metres (138 ft) including its roof comb. [12] The main stairway is 10.4 metres (34 ft) wide and projects 7.45 metres (24.4 ft) from the pyramid base. [13] The base of the pyramid measures 37.6 by 41 metres (123 by 135 ft), covering a surface area of 1,542 square metres (16,600 sq ft). [14] Excavations inside Temple II failed to discover Lady Kalajuun Une' Mo's tomb. [15] Ancient graffiti within the temple shrine depicts a captive upon a platform and bound between two poles being sacrificed with an arrow or a spear. [16] Further ancient graffiti includes images of temples. [17] Some of this graffiti dates to the Classic Period, although other examples appear to date to the Early Postclassic. [18] The interior walls have also been defaced with modern graffiti. [19] Evidence of ritual use in the Postclassic Period was found within the temple shrine, including burials and offerings. [20]

Laser scan projection of Temple II Cyark Tikal Temple II 3D.jpg
Laser scan projection of Temple II

The pyramid rises in three stepped levels; upon the uppermost level is a wide platform supporting the summit shrine. [21] The first level measures 6.25 metres (20.5 ft) high, the second is 6.1 metres (20 ft) high and the third level stands 5.6 metres (18 ft) high, giving an average height of 5.98 metres (19.6 ft). [22] The total height of the pyramidal base is 17.9 metres (59 ft), the summit shrine measures 9.8 metres (32 ft) high and the roof comb 12.3 metres (40 ft). [23] Two badly eroded giant masks adorn the upper platform, flanking the stairway to the shrine. [24] These grotesque masks decorating the pyramid's facade give Temple II its alternative name of the Temple of the Masks. [25] A large block of masonry was built into the stairway immediately outside the entrance to the shrine. [26] this block may have served as an observation platform allowing the officiating priests to see the crowd in the plaza below and in turn be seen by the people there. [27]

The roof comb of the temple is highly ornate and bears the sculpture of a face with circular earspools. [28] Various sealed chambers exist within the roof comb. [29]

The temple shrine upon the summit of the pyramid contains three chambers, the doorways of which were spanned by lintels. [30] Only the lintel over the middle doorway was carved. [31] The lintel consisted of five wooden beams, one of which is now in the American Museum of Natural History in New York. [32] When excavated the lintels had fallen from their original positions and have been restored. [33]

At the base of the main access stairway stands Stela P-83, which was plain, without sculpted decoration or hieroglyphic texts. [34] The stela stands 3.34 metres (11.0 ft) high and was broken but has been restored. [35] It is associated with its respective altar. [36] The distance from the base of the main stairway of Temple II, across the plaza to the base of the stairway of Temple I directly opposite is 70 metres (230 ft). [37]

See also


  1. Sharer & Traxler 2006, p.303.
  2. Sharer & Traxler 2006, p.303.
  3. Sharer & Traxler 2006, pp. 395, 397.
  4. Sharer & Traxler 2006, p.303. Martin & Grube 2000, p. 46.
  5. Martin & Grube 2000, p.46.
  6. Drew 1999, p. 279.
  7. Muñoz Cosme & Vidal Lorenzo 1998, pp. 11, 13.
  8. Coe 1962, p. 481.
  9. ABC News
  10. Martin & Grube 2000, p.46. Miller 1999, pp.32–33.
  11. Kelly 1996, p.134. Coe 1867, 1988, p.36.
  12. Coe 1867, 1988, p.36.
  13. Gómez 1998, p.63.
  14. Gómez 1998, p.60.
  15. Martin & Grube 2000, p.46.
  16. Sharer & Traxler 2006, pp.752–753.
  17. Coe 1867, 1988, pp.36–37.
  18. Coe 1867, 1988, p.37.
  19. Coe 1867, 1988, p.36.
  20. Valdés & Fahsen 2005, p.153.
  21. Coe 1867, 1988, p.36.
  22. Gómez 1998, p.60.
  23. Gómez 1998, p.60.
  24. Coe 1867, 1988, p.36.
  25. Coe 1867, 1988, p.36.
  26. Coe 1867, 1988, p.36.
  27. Coe 1867, 1988, p.36.
  28. Coe 1867, 1988, p.36.
  29. Coe 1867, 1988, p.36.
  30. Kelly 1996, p.134.
  31. Kelly 1996, p.134.
  32. Kelly 1996, p.134.
  33. Coe 1867, 1988, p.37.
  34. Coe 1867, 1988, p.37.
  35. Coe 1867, 1988, p.37.
  36. Coe 1867, 1988, p.37.
  37. Muñoz Cosme & Vidal Lorenzo 1998, p.12.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Copán</span> Archaeological site of the Maya civilization

Copán is an archaeological site of the Maya civilization in the Copán Department of western Honduras, not far from the border with Guatemala. This ancient Maya city mirrors the beauty of the physical landscape in which it flourished—a fertile, well-watered mountain valley in western Honduras at an elevation of 600 meters above mean sea level. It was the capital city of a major Classic period kingdom from the 5th to 9th centuries AD. The city was in the extreme southeast of the Mesoamerican cultural region, on the frontier with the Isthmo-Colombian cultural region, and was almost surrounded by non-Maya peoples.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dos Pilas</span> Maya settlement

Dos Pilas is a Pre-Columbian site of the Maya civilization located in what is now the department of Petén, Guatemala. It dates to the Late Classic Period, and was founded by an offshoot of the dynasty of the great city of Tikal in AD 629 in order to control trade routes in the Petexbatún region, particularly the Pasión River. In AD 648 Dos Pilas broke away from Tikal and became a vassal state of Calakmul, although the first two kings of Dos Pilas continued to use the same emblem glyph that Tikal did. It was a predator state from the beginning, conquering Itzan, Arroyo de Piedra and Tamarindito. Dos Pilas and a nearby city, Aguateca, eventually became the twin capitals of a single ruling dynasty. The kingdom as a whole has been named as the Petexbatun Kingdom, after Lake Petexbatún, a body of water draining into the Pasión River.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tikal</span> Ruins of major ancient Maya city

Tikal is the ruin of an ancient city, which was likely to have been called Yax Mutal, found in a rainforest in Guatemala. It is one of the largest archeological sites and urban centers of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization. It is located in the archeological region of the Petén Basin in what is now northern Guatemala. Situated in the department of El Petén, the site is part of Guatemala's Tikal National Park and in 1979 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Seibal</span> Archaeological site of the Maya civilization

Seibal, known as El Ceibal in Spanish, is a Classic Period archaeological site of the Maya civilization located in the northern Petén Department of Guatemala, about 100 km SW of Tikal. It was the largest city in the Pasión River region.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Calakmul</span> Ancient Mayan city in Campeche, Mexico

Calakmul is a Maya archaeological site in the Mexican state of Campeche, deep in the jungles of the greater Petén Basin region. It is 35 kilometres (22 mi) from the Guatemalan border. Calakmul was one of the largest and most powerful ancient cities ever uncovered in the Maya lowlands.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jasaw Chan Kʼawiil I</span> Ajaw

Jasaw Chan Kʼawiil I also known as Ruler A, Ah Cacao and Sky Rain, was an ajaw of the Maya city of Tikal. He took the throne on May 3, 682, and reigned until his death.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tikal Temple I</span>

Tikal Temple I is the designation given to one of the major structures at Tikal, one of the largest cities and archaeological sites of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization in Mesoamerica. It is located in the Petén Basin region of northern Guatemala. It also is known as the Temple of the Great Jaguar because of a lintel that represents a king sitting upon a jaguar throne. An alternative name is the Temple of Ah Cacao, after the ruler buried in the temple. Temple I is a typically Petén-styled limestone stepped pyramid structure that is dated to approximately 732 AD.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">La Amelia</span>

La Amelia is a Pre-Columbian Maya archaeological site near Itzan, in the lower Pasión River region of the Petén Department of Guatemala. It formed a polity in the Late Classic, and was involved in the war between Tikal and Calakmul followed, in 650, by La Amelia's takeover by Dos Pilas. Two centuries of intermittent warfare followed until the area's population was so diminished by about 830, that this is considered the beginning of abandonment of Classic sites in the region.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Yikʼin Chan Kʼawiil</span> Ajaw

Yikʼin Chan Kʼawiil also known as Ruler B, Yaxkin Caan Chac and Sun Sky Rain,, was an ajaw of the Maya city of Tikal. He took the throne on December 8, 734.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tikal Temple V</span>

Tikal Temple V is the name given by archaeologists to one of the major pyramids at Tikal. Tikal is one of the most important archaeological sites of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization and is located in the Petén Department of northern Guatemala.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Maya stelae</span> Intricately carved stone slabs made by the Pre-Columbian Maya

Maya stelae are monuments that were fashioned by the Maya civilization of ancient Mesoamerica. They consist of tall, sculpted stone shafts and are often associated with low circular stones referred to as altars, although their actual function is uncertain. Many stelae were sculpted in low relief, although plain monuments are found throughout the Maya region. The sculpting of these monuments spread throughout the Maya area during the Classic Period, and these pairings of sculpted stelae and circular altars are considered a hallmark of Classic Maya civilization. The earliest dated stela to have been found in situ in the Maya lowlands was recovered from the great city of Tikal in Guatemala. During the Classic Period almost every Maya kingdom in the southern lowlands raised stelae in its ceremonial centre.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tikal Temple IV</span>

Tikal Temple IV is a Mesoamerican pyramid in the ruins of the ancient Maya city of Tikal in modern Guatemala. It was one of the tallest and most voluminous buildings in the Maya world. The pyramid was built around 741 AD. Temple IV is located at the western edge of the site core. Two causeways meet at the temple; the Tozzer Causeway runs east to the Great Plaza, while the Maudslay Causeway runs northeast to the Northern Zone. Temple IV is the second tallest pre-Columbian structure still standing in the New World, just after the Great Pyramid of Toniná in Chiapas, Mexico, although Teotihuacan's Pyramid of the Sun may once have been taller.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tikal Temple III</span>

Tikal Temple III, also known as the Temple of the Jaguar Priest, was one of the principal temple pyramids at the ancient Maya city of Tikal, in the Petén Department of modern Guatemala. The temple stands approximately 55 metres (180 ft) tall. The summit shrine of Temple III differs from those of the other major temples at Tikal in that it only possesses two rooms instead of the usual three. The pyramid was built in the Late Classic Period, and has been dated to 810 AD using the hieroglyphic text on Stela 24, which was raised at the base of its access stairway. Stela 24 is paired with the damaged Altar 6, in a typical stela-altar pair.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lady Lahan Unen Moʼ</span> Ajaw

Lady Lahan Unen Moʼ also known as Lady 12 Baby Macaws and Kalajuun Uneʼ Moʼ, was a Maya queen of Tikal as a wife of ajaw Jasaw Chan Kʼawiil I. She was the mother of ajaw Yikʼin Chan Kʼawiil. She died in c.704.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Twin-pyramid complex</span>

A twin-pyramid complex or twin-pyramid group was an architectural innovation of the Maya civilization of ancient Mesoamerica. Twin-pyramid complexes were regularly built at the great city of Tikal in the central Petén Basin of Guatemala to celebrate the end of the 20-year kʼatun cycle of the Maya Long Count Calendar. A twin-pyramid complex has been identified at Yaxha, a large city that was 30 kilometres (19 mi) to the southeast of Tikal. Another has been mapped at Ixlu, and Zacpeten appears also to possess at least one twin-pyramid complex and possibly two. These examples outside of Tikal itself indicate that their cities were closely linked to Tikal politically.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mundo Perdido, Tikal</span> Architectural complexes in, Tikal Guatemala

The Mundo Perdido is the largest ceremonial complex dating from the Preclassic period at the ancient Maya city of Tikal, in the Petén Department of northern Guatemala. The complex was organised as a large E-Group astronomical complex consisting of a pyramid aligned with a platform to the east that supported three temples. The Mundo Perdido complex was rebuilt many times over the course of its history. By AD 250–300 its architectural style was influenced by the great metropolis of Teotihuacan in the Valley of Mexico, including the use of the talud-tablero form. During the Early Classic period the Mundo Perdido became one of the twin foci of the city, the other being the North Acropolis. From AD 250 to 378 it may have served as the royal necropolis. The Mundo Perdido complex was given its name by the archaeologists of the University of Pennsylvania.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tikal Temple VI</span>

Tikal Temple VI is a Mesoamerican pyramid in the ruins of the major Maya city of Tikal, in the Petén department of northern Guatemala. Temple VI is located at the southeastern end of the Mendez Causeway, which links the temple plaza with the site core. The temple faces west onto a walled plaza. The existence of the temple was first reported in 1951 by Antonio Ortiz on behalf of the Instituto de Antropología e Historia. The roof comb of the temple is inscribed on its sides and back with a lengthy hieroglyphic text. The pyramid's summit superstructure contains two chambers, and the highest surviving portion of the temple's roof comb stands 12 metres (40 ft) high. The pyramid superstructure is accessed via three west-facing doorways. The triple doorway and interior layout of the chambers suggest that Temple VI was in fact a palace-type structure rather than a temple.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tikal Temple 33</span> Dismantled Maya pyramid

Tikal Temple 33 was a 33-metre-high (108 ft) ancient Maya funerary pyramid located in the North Acropolis of the great Maya city of Tikal. The pyramid was centrally situated in the front row of structures facing onto the Great Plaza, between Temples 32 and 34 and in front of the Northern Platform. Temple 33 is one of the most thoroughly explored temples in the entire Maya area. The earliest version was a low funerary shrine over the tomb of king Siyaj Chan K'awiil II, which was sealed in AD 457. Temple 33 underwent three consecutive phases of construction, during which the king's funerary shrine was remodelled and one of his stelae was interred above his tomb. In the mid-1960s, archaeologists completely dismantled the final version of the large pyramid, uncovering the earlier phases of construction.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">North Acropolis, Tikal</span> Ancient site in Guatemala

The North Acropolis of the ancient Maya city of Tikal in Guatemala is an architectural complex that served as a royal necropolis and was a centre for funerary activity for over 1300 years. The acropolis is located near the centre of the city and is one of the most studied of Maya architectural complexes. Excavations were carried out from 1957 to 1969 by the University of Pennsylvania, directed by Edwin M. Shook and William Coe.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Central Acropolis</span>

The Central Acropolis of the ancient Maya city of Tikal is an architectural complex located immediately to the south of the Great Plaza. Tikal is one of the most important archaeological sites of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization and is located in the Petén Department of northern Guatemala. The complex served dual administrative and residential purposes. The Central Acropolis was first established in the Late Preclassic period of Mesoamerican chronology, and it remained in use until approximately 950 AD.


Coordinates: 17°13′20″N89°37′27″W / 17.22222°N 89.62417°W / 17.22222; -89.62417