Tikal Temple III

Last updated
The roof comb of Temple III standing above the forest canopy Tikal2.jpg
The roof comb of Temple III standing above the forest canopy

Tikal Temple III, also known as the Temple of the Jaguar Priest, [1] 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. [1] 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. [1] 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. [1] Stela 24 is paired with the damaged Altar 6, in a typical stela-altar pair. [1]


Temple III is associated with the little-known king Dark Sun, [2] and it is likely that Temple III is Dark Sun's funerary temple. [3] The construction of Temple III indicated that Tikal was still politically stable at the beginning of the 9th century AD. [4] However, this was the last temple pyramid raised at Tikal and by the end of the 9th century the city had fallen into ruin. [5]

Temple III is only partially restored and is closed to the public; it has not been the subject of archaeological investigation. [6]

The structure

Temple III is immediately south of the Tozzer Causeway and faces eastwards towards the Great Plaza. [7] The inner doorway separating the two chambers of the summit shrine supports a finely sculpted lintel representing an obese figure wrapped in a jaguar skin. [8] This is one of only two sculpted lintels at Tikal that are still in their original setting. [8]

The temple structure was restored in 1967 and 1969 by the Tikal Project of the University Museum of the University of Pennsylvania, concentrating upon the summit shrine and the roof comb. The pyramid body itself was not restored but is known to have nine stepped levels and an east-facing access stairway. [9]

The roof comb and the outer chamber of the summit shrine have suffered lightning damage, causing a 10-centimetre (3.9 in) wide crack in the eastern wall of the corbel vaulting. [9]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Coe 1967, 1988, p.76.
  2. Sharer and Traxler 2006, p.305.
  3. Martin and Grube 2000, p.53.
  4. Valdés and Fahsen 2005, p.150.
  5. Phillips 2006, 2007, p.417.
  6. Gómez 2006, p.768.
  7. Phillips 2006, 2007, p.417. Coe 1967, 1988, p.77.
  8. 1 2 Coe 1967, 1988, p.77.
  9. 1 2 Schieber de Lavarreda 1997, 292.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Takalik Abaj</span> Pre-Columbian archaeological site in Guatemala

Tak'alik Ab'aj is a pre-Columbian archaeological site in Guatemala. It was formerly known as Abaj Takalik; its ancient name may have been Kooja. It is one of several Mesoamerican sites with both Olmec and Maya features. The site flourished in the Preclassic and Classic periods, from the 9th century BC through to at least the 10th century AD, and was an important centre of commerce, trading with Kaminaljuyu and Chocolá. Investigations have revealed that it is one of the largest sites with sculptured monuments on the Pacific coastal plain. Olmec-style sculptures include a possible colossal head, petroglyphs and others. The site has one of the greatest concentrations of Olmec-style sculpture outside of the Gulf of Mexico.

<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">Ixlu</span>

Ixlu is a small Maya archaeological site that dates to the Classic and Postclassic Periods. It is located on the isthmus between the Petén Itzá and Salpetén lakes, in the northern Petén Department of Guatemala. The site was an important port with access to Lake Petén Itzá via the Ixlu River. The site has been identified as Saklamakhal, also spelt Saclemacal, a capital of the Kowoj Maya.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Río Azul</span> Mayan archaeological site in Petén Department, Guatemala

Río Azul is an archaeological site of the Pre-Columbian Maya civilization. It is the most important site in the Río Azul National Park in the Petén Department of northern Guatemala, close to the borders of Mexico and Belize. Río Azul is situated to the southeast of the Azul river and its apogee dates to the Early Classic period.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tres Islas</span>

Tres Islas is a small pre-Columbian Maya archaeological site 20 kilometres (12 mi) north of Cancuen in Petén Department, northern Guatemala. The site has been dated to the Late Preclassic and Late Classic periods of Mesoamerican chronology. The main feature of the site is a group of three Maya stelae and an altar, arranged in a way that mimics an E-Group Maya astronomical complex.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Yaxha</span> Archeological site

Yaxha is a Mesoamerican archaeological site in the northeast of the Petén Basin region, and a former ceremonial centre and city of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization. Yaxha was the third largest city in the region and experienced its maximum power during the Early Classic period.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">El Tintal</span>

El Tintal is a Maya archaeological site in the northern Petén region of Guatemala, about 25 kilometres (16 mi) northeast of the modern-day settlement of Carmelita, with settlement dating to the Preclassic and Classic periods. It is close to the better known sites of El Mirador, to which it was linked by causeway, and Nakbé. El Tintal is a sizeable site that includes some very large structures and it is one of the four largest sites in the northern Petén; it is the second largest site in the Mirador Basin, after El Mirador itself. El Tintal features monumental architecture dating to the Middle Preclassic similar to that found at El Mirador, Nakbé and Wakna. Potsherds recovered from the site date to the Late Preclassic and Early Classic periods, and construction continued at the site in the Late Classic period.

<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">Itzan</span>

Itzan is a Maya archaeological site located in the municipality of La Libertad in the Petén Department of Guatemala. Various small structures at the site were destroyed in the 1980s during oil exploration activities by Sonpetrol and Basic Resources Ltd, prompting rescue excavations by archaeologists. In spite of its small size, the site appears to have been the most politically important centre in its area, as evidenced by its unusually large quantity of monuments and the size of its major architecture.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Triadic pyramid</span> Style in Mayan architecture

Triadic pyramids were an innovation of the Preclassic Maya civilization consisting of a dominant structure flanked by two smaller inward-facing buildings, all mounted upon a single basal platform. The largest known triadic pyramid was built at El Mirador in the Petén Basin of Guatemala; it covers an area six times as large as that covered by Tikal Temple IV, which is the largest pyramid at that city. The three superstructures all have stairways leading up from the central plaza on top of the basal platform. Triadic pyramid structures are found at early cities in the Maya lowlands.

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

Tikal Temple II 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. Temple II is located on the west side of the Great Plaza, opposite Temple I. Temple II was built by the king Jasaw Chan K'awiil I in honour of his wife, Lady Kalajuun Une' Mo'. 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. 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. In fact her son Yik'in Chan K'awiil oversaw the completion of Temple II when he became king.

<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">Plaza of the Seven Temples</span>

The Plaza of the Seven Temples is an architectural complex in the ruins of the Maya city of Tikal, in the Petén Department of northern Guatemala. It is to the south of Temple III and to the west of the South Acropolis; it is 300 metres (980 ft) to the southwest of the Great Plaza. The Plaza of the Seven Temples is situated directly to the east of the Mundo Perdido Complex and takes its name from a row of seven small temples dating to the Late Classic Period. The plaza has a surface area of approximately 25,000 square metres (270,000 sq ft), making it one of the three largest plazas in the city.

<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">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">History of the Maya civilization</span>

The history of Maya civilization is divided into three principal periods: the Preclassic, Classic and Postclassic periods; these were preceded by the Archaic Period, which saw the first settled villages and early developments in agriculture. Modern scholars regard these periods as arbitrary divisions of chronology of the Maya civilization, rather than indicative of cultural evolution or decadence. Definitions of the start and end dates of period spans can vary by as much as a century, depending on the author. The Preclassic lasted from approximately 3000 BC to approximately 250 AD; this was followed by the Classic, from 250 AD to roughly 950 AD, then by the Postclassic, from 950 AD to the middle of the 16th century. Each period is further subdivided:


Coordinates: 17°13′19.49″N89°37′33.84″W / 17.2220806°N 89.6260667°W / 17.2220806; -89.6260667