Tikal is the ruin of an ancient city, which was likely to have been called Yax Mutal, found in a rainforest in Guatemala. Ambrosio Tut, a gum-sapper, reported the ruins to La Gaceta, a Guatemalan newspaper, which named the site Tikal. After the Berlin Academy of Sciences' magazine republished the report in 1853, archeologists and treasure hunters began visiting the forest. Today, tourism to the site may help protect the rainforest. It is one of the largest archaeological sites and urban centers of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization. It is located in the archaeological 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.
Tikal was the capital of a conquest state that became one of the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient Maya. Though monumental architecture at the site dates back as far as the 4th century BC, Tikal reached its apogee during the Classic Period, c. 200 to 900 AD.