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El Mirador - Monument El Mirador - Guatemala

El Mirador is a massive Mayan city found in the far north of El Petén, just four kilometers below the Mexican border. The city is home to some of the most fascinating structures of the Mayan empire, including one of the tallest pyramids in all of Mayan civilization, La Danta Complex, which towers to 230 ft. (70 meters). With a volume of 2.8 million cubic meters, La Danta is also one of the largest pyramids in the world. El Tigre, another pyramid standing at 180 ft (55 meters), is found in El Mirador and has a massive base of 19,600 sq. meters. Many of the buildings are decorated with stucco masks and designs, which are somewhat eroded but still visible.

The city's stature and population peaked in Preclassic times, between the 3rd century B.C. and the 1st century A.D. Then, the population waxed and waned for the next 750 years until it was finally abandoned in the 9th century. There is a lot of speculation concerning El Mirador's downfall, and some archaelogists have attributed it to changing trade patterns, while others attribute it to natural disasters, warfare or internal strife.

The El Mirador site, along with other smaller cities, was “discovered” in 1926, but it wasn't until 1978 when American archaeologists launched a major mapmaking project and archaelogical excavation of the area. In 2003, another series of American archaelogists and preservationists returned to El Mirador for further studies. There are twenty six known sites, but only fourteen have been thoroughly studied. Many factors are threatening the preservation of the region, including deforestation and looting. Fortunately, the area is so remote and access is so difficult that the area hasn't been damaged by much tourist activity. Hopefully, with the inclusion of El Mirador and its neighboring cities into a national park, the Guatemalan government can preserve the Mayan cities effectively.


El Mirador, Guatemala

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Here are other activities in and around El Mirador that may be of interest: Nakbé,

By Eli Mangold
22 Jul 2010

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