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Tikal's great stone monuments by Spanish friars later wrote of a great city hidden in the forests of the Peten.
The causes of the Maya empire's collapse remain a mystery, but wars, famine, overpopulation and resource depletion have all been blamed.
Tikal Temples I and II by Dozens of stone pillars known as stelae, each one paired with a circular altar, stand in rows throughout the plaza and along surrounding terraces.
Carvings and glyphs commemorating important dates and the great deeds of Tikal's rulers still adorn many of these weathered monoliths.
View over the Grand Plaza and Temple I by In 1958, archeologists discovered the tomb of Ah Cacau (Lord Chocolate), one of Tikal's greatest rulers, inside Temple I.
Ah Cacau's skeleton was festooned with jade ornaments and surrounded by precious offerings, including pottery, alabaster, sea shells and pearls from the Caribbean coast.