Tikal, Guatemala

An ancient Mayan kingdom in Guatemala



CyArk scanning Tikal by CyArk Tikal Project TeamCyArk

Expedition Overview

In November 2005, a team from the University of California, Berkeley traveled to Tikal in Guatemala, a World Heritage Site, to demonstrate the advantages of digital documentation techniques and how they could be applied to Temple IV, one of the tallest and most voluminous buildings in the Maya world. The expedition team completed survey, digital photography and laser scanning to support current condition assessment and restoration activities and also provided a workshop to local heritage professionals. The project, completed in partnership with Instituto de Antropología e Historia and xRez Studio, was funded by the UNESCO World Heritage Center with support from the Kacyra Family Foundation.

Panorama by xRez Studio

A view of the ruins at Tikal by CyArk Tikal Project TeamCyArk

Introducing Tikal

The ancient Mayan city of Tikal is located deep in the heart of Guatemala's El Petén rain forest, within Tikal National Park. The ancient city, covering an area greater than 16 sq km (6.2 sq mi), is the largest known ancient Maya city-complex dating to the Classic period. It is estimated to have had a peak population of 100,000 to 200,000 with an urban density of 600 to 700 people per square kilometer. During the Classic Maya period from 200 to 850 CE, Tikal flourished, becoming the preeminent political, economic, and military power in the region. At least 33 rulers oversaw the construction of numerous monuments, many of which remain to be uncovered. In addition to its large monumental temples, the site is renowned for its carved inscriptions and exceptional multicolored ceramics.

A view of Tikal Temple 1 in Tikal by CyArk Tikal Project TeamCyArk

Temple IV

Temple IV has a rectangular base and rises 64.6 meters (212 ft) from its supporting platform to the highest part of the roof, making it one of the largest Pre-Columbian structures in the Americas. The pyramid was built to mark the reign of the 27th king of the Tikal dynasty, Yik'in Chan K'awiil. Archaeologists estimate that 190,000 cubic meters of construction material were utilized in its construction. A shrine with three chambers is located at the summit and faces East towards Temple I, Temple II and Temple III. The shrine features stone mosaic exteriors as well as several carved wooden lintels.

3-D point cloud scan of Tikal Temple I by CyArkCyArk

CyArks documentation of Tikal was used to create a variety of architectural plans sections and elevations for use by the Guatemalan Ministry of Culture.

Tikal 3D Point Cloud Fly-through by CyArkCyArk

Open Heritage 3D by CyArkCyArk

Data from this project is now freely available through Open Heritage 3D.

Download the data from this project.

About Open Heritage 3D

The mission of the Open Heritage 3D project is to:

● Provide open access to 3D cultural heritage datasets for education, research and other
non-commercial uses.

● Minimize the technical, financial and legal barriers for publishers of 3D heritage data.

● Promote discovery and re-use of datasets through standardized metadata and data formats.

● Foster community collaboration and knowledge sharing in the 3D cultural heritage community.

● Share best practices and methodologies for the capture, processing and storage of 3D cultural heritage data

Credits: Story

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This project was made possible through the generous support of UNESCO and the following partners:

Instituto de Antropología e Historia, Guatemala

University of California, Berkeley

xRez Studio

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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