Tikal 2014

  • Tikal in 2014

 Tikal and the Peten Region of Guatemala - December 2014

Tikal Temple 1















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Join us for the 2014 Maya Field Workshop in Guatemala! We will focus our week of archaeological learning at the great ruins of Tikal, nestled in the remote forest of the northern Peten region. There we will visit temples and palaces, learn about the city’s rise and fall, and how hieroglyphs and decipherment continue to revolutionize our understanding of Maya history and culture.

The MFW will also visit the nearby sites of Uaxactun and Yaxha before heading south to the seldom visited Aguateca and Ceibal, where we will stay on the scenic Rio Petexbatun.

We take a good deal of time in classroom-like environments, learning details about the latest advances in Maya archaeology, art history and decipherment.The MFWs are an immersive, enlightening, and fun experience for everyone.

Come along on for another fabulous adventure!



Tikal: Tales of Ancient War, Conquest and Rebellion

The great capital of Tikal lies at the geographic center of the Maya world, and it played a decisive role in the development of Classic Maya civilization. During the 2014 Maya Field Workshops we’ll visit Tikal and other nearby ruins, exploring their history and archaeology in detail, including many new finds. We’ll examine how a warlord from highland Mexico targeted Tikal and Uaxactun in 378 A.D, overthrowing its kings and establishing a new political order lasting decades.  We’ll also learn how, generations later, Tikal’s court intrigue led to an intense rivalry between two princes, one of whom left to establish his own court at Dos Pilas and Aguateca. Many wars and conflicts ensued, including the conquest of nearby Ceibal, a long-established community where archaeologists just recently discovered some of the very earliest Maya temples and architecture. Join us at these sites on the 2014 Maya Field Workshops for a fascinating adventure and learning experience.


Where we'll go:


Tikal - Few archaeological sites in the world can compare to Tikal. This majestic site, still largely buried in the rain forest, was one of the largest of all Maya cities and the major Classic Maya capital of the central lowlands. Archaeologists began excavating here in the 1950s, and subsequent studies have led to a detailed and nuanced picture of Tikal’s dynastic history and regional interaction with the rest of Mesoamerica. The Maya Field Workshops will spend two days at Tikal, highlighting the very latest discoveries about its connections to Teotihuacan and its long-standing rivalry with its rival, the Kanul court based at Calakmul.

Uaxactun - A short distance north of Tikal is another impressive site, Uaxactun. Here one of the earliest Maya archaeological projects took place in the 1920s, led by the Carnegie Institution of Washington. While it seems to have had close relations with its neighbor Tikal, Uaxactun was evidently the seat of a long-lived royal court with its own kings and dynastic identity. At Uaxactun the MFW will focus on how the goals and methods of Maya archaeology have changed over the last century.

Yaxha - This beautiful ruin looks over Lake Yaxha - an ancient place name meaning “Clear Waters.” In its heyday Yaxha was apparently a major kingdom in its own right, and also a significant ally of Tikal, at least during the Late Classic era. Excavations in the last few decades have unearthed many architectural jewels, including major Late Pre-Classic structures.

Aguateca -  In the early 7th century Tikal’s royal family splintered into two factions, one of which left to establish a new court center in the distant Petexbatun region. Dos Pilas and Aguateca were its two main centers. We will visit the fortified ruins of Aguateca, and look in detail at the historical background of its fission away from Tikal as well as the remarkable the evidence of Aguateca’s rapid abandonment around 800 A.D. Aguateca is one of the best places to investigate the complex causes of the Classic Maya collapse.

Ceibal (Seibal) - The important site of Ceibal is famous among Mayanists for its compelling evidence of rise and fall. In the 1960s, archaeologists from Harvard focused on Ceibal in order to study its usually late monuments and “Mexican influence.” Just in the last few years, very different research at Ceibal has uncovered some of the very earliest ritual architecture in the Maya region, before 1000 B.C.. Here we will look at the very beginnings if Maya civilization as well as its demise nearly eighteen centuries later.

Flores (Nohpeten) - We end our adventure in Flores, the charming island town that was originally the seat of the Itza kingdom conquered in 1697. The amazing story of its resistance to Spanish domination lasted nearly two centuries. The legacy of this last Maya conquest lives on around Lake Peten Itzá, where we will see the burgeoning development of modern Guatemala directly juxtaposed with ancient and colonial history.


Preliminary Itinerary:

  • Saturday Dec 6: Arrivals at Flores Airport. You will have transportation provided to Tikal. Welcome Dinner and Introductions
  • Sunday Dec 7: Visit to Tikal
  • Monday Dec 8: Visit to Tikal
  • Tuesday Dec 9: Visit to Yaxha
  • Wednesday Dec 10: Visit to Uaxactun
  • Thursday Dec 11: Travel to Lake Petexbatun on the Pasion River
  • Friday Dec 12: Aguateca visit by boat
  • Saturday Dec 13: Seibal visit by boat. Return to Flores for Farewell Party
  • Sunday Dec 14: Departures from Flores Airport





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