once tikal was one of the most important mayan sites and the ancient city is located in the rain forest of the petén. The petén was considered as the seventh largest rainforest area on earth but on our way from rio dulce to tikal we hadn´t seen rainforests – instead there was maiz fields, cattle pastures, oil palm trees and waste land.
From the beginning of the 3rd century there was a lot of activities in tikal and in honor of the gods they had to build temples, pyramides and of course residential sites for the kings. Tikal subdued neighboring cities and had a long enmity with calakmul from which it was hammered down 562. But in 695 there was the revanche and calakmul was subjugated, this meant for tikal a new heyday.
in the city and in the surrounding area there once had lived up to 200.000 humans but in the beginning of the ninth century suddenly the game was over. Why the exodus came remains unclear up today but one assumes that an extreme drought happend between 800 and 830.
Perhaps the mayas had cleared too much rainforest for growing crops etc. and thus might had changed micro climate?
villa de leyva / colombia
Lured by the mention in our travel guide, there would be naked saints in a junk room in the “convent ecco homo”, we drove to the monastery located near villa de leyva. However, it was renovated to inconsequential boredom and we couldn´t find the junk room, even i had asked about the naked saints.
The nearby astronomical Observatory Zaquencipá was much more interesting. In the connected space museum was a display ot the “ratonautas”, a mouse that was shot in space by the colombians, models of stonehenge, tikal and all sorts of other astronomical observatories. The Roswell incident was also on display, as well as the digital message that was sent into space several years ago and the corresponding response that was trampled by aliens into a cornfield 26 years later. Corios also the self-made telescopes together with their mounts, a must see !!
The ruins of calakmul are similarly impressive as the remains of tikal, the long time enemy. After fighting over the centuries for the supremacy in the region (see also my blog contribution to tikal) in 695 the game was over and calakmul sank in insignificance. The last inscription, found on a pillar, shows the date of January 20th. 909, after which the city was completely abandoned. Probably all the sacrifices for the rain god were useless after all that slash-and-burn agriculture.
Connections to our present situation are, of course, purely coincidental – I am curious to see to which planet we will move on.