Architecture has been considered as one of the greatest inventions of man since time immemorial. The beginning of architecture cannot be traced at the exact date but it is believed that many ancient communities practiced different forms of architectural designs. Although modern architecture has been precipitated by the need to have better places to live, the development of ancient architecture was mainly driven by the social, political and religious inspirations which were greatly embraced by ancient communities.
For example, one of the most notable locations of such ancient architectures is the city of Tikal. Owing to its rich history in architecture and other forms of civilizations such as astronomy, anthropologists have found it necessary to document Tikal both as remarkable historical site and a source of rich socio-cultural and political life of the Mayans who lived in this place (Thurston, 1996).
It is against this background that the study on the city of Tikal has been given much prominence. In addition, throughout the anthropological history of Tikal, it is astounding to note that astronomy was one of the remarkable developments as discussed in this paper.
Tikal is located in the heart of Guatemalan jungle –more than 300 kilometers away from Guatemala City and covers an area of approximately 125sq. kilometers. It is one of the largest pre-Columbian civilization architectures that still stand the test of time as one of the largest and well established archaeological sites of ancient history (Andrea, 2002). Its history can be traced back to 500-400 years B.C as part of the ancient civilization of Mayan people.
Furthermore, its architectural buildings and growth has been historically associated with power and sacrificial ritual performances and thus, it was the most powerful kingdom of its time in the region according to the Mayan culture. Mayan architecture in Tikal is indeed a notable pre-classical anthropological site whose civilization traversed through 1,700 B.C. It mainly began in Mirada basin on the northern side of Guatemala.
Other historical estimates have documented that human settlement in this city may have begun around 6000 years ago and their architectural design is also associated with Tikal. This has prompted anthropologists to perceive Tikal as one of the oldest architectures in the world. As a matter of fact, Tikal appeared to be the only ancient civilization in American peninsula that had records of its history kept.
Despite lack of their architectural documentations, their messages were mainly passed through broadcasting on stone billboards and these messages could last for centuries. Up and until now, their messages are still embedded on stone billboards in temples built in Tikal (Fischer, 1996). Their architecture also expanded and started recording on potteries, paper and skin on events when they were considered to be important as part of their cultural values.
Currently, there are un-deciphered hieroglyphs that contain numerous messages which were recorded during the reign of Tikal.
The admiration of Mayan architecture may extend for centuries and up to the present; this spectacular nature of Tikal has not yet dwindled. In this respect, many anthropologists have relentlessly sought to understand the inspiration behind this kind of great invention. As a result, there have been widespread unfounded claims about the influence of Mayan architecture.
Theoretically, it has been argued that Mayan architecture is still one of the oldest architectures in the world today, and independent of external forces. This paper thus argues on the emergence and growth of Mayan architecture in Tikal as influenced by social, political, cultural and astronomical aspects of the Mayan people. Without these aspects of influence, Mayan architecture at Tikal would be nonexistent.
Social and Cultural aspects of ancient Mayans in relation to architecture
The presence of complex storage structures in Tikal is solely attributed to agriculture. Being complex famers who concentrated on cultivation of maize, not as a source of basic food but for the purposes of spirituality, the Mayans were inspired by agriculture and their spiritual attachment to construct complex storage structures.
They believed that man was created from maize by the gods and thus embarked on planting it by attaching immense cosmological importance. Consequently, they used complicated agricultural techniques such as canal irrigations during their time and thus were able to grow food even during dry spells (Roderick, 2008). This clearly depicts that Tikal was not just a simple ancient development but a complex system and way of life that was highly valued by its occupants.
For instance, systems of governance were rightly in place and it was without doubt that anthropologists found it necessary to write a full documentary on it. Although there is a conventional view that architecture improved as an innovation, their architecture, founded on agriculture, remained unchanged and still stands to challenge modern architecture since it was passionately discovered.
Due to this significant attachment to this crop, they developed complex architectural designs for constructing storage points for the maize and water, which led to the presence complex agricultural structures like underground storage tanks for water and granaries for maize storage.
Without artistic inventions founded on remembrance of past events and leaders, Mayan art architecture would not have come into place. Paintings and drawings on the walls of the temples suggest valuation of the ceremonies carried out in the city.
Stone inscriptions and sculpture carvings of great rulers of the city on the temples, tombs and other stones are reflective of the need to remember their past events and leaders (Fischer, 1996). It can thus be argued that the presence of artistic in their architecture is founded on their passion for remembering the past and for future generations and not for aesthetic purposes (Culbert, 1996).