Back to Mayans: first trading experience

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In Acropolis North, near the great plaza, Mayans were the first to invent world trade, having created the first system of currencies. They employed various forms of currency in their trading, with Cacao and Obsidian dominating the market. Luxury items like Jade, Quetzal Feathers, Seashells, Polychrome Pottery, Embroidered Cloth, Chert, Amber, and Turquoise were also used as commodities.

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Similarly, InstaForex Company was the first broker to make the first exchange online, in the same place where Mayans did it over 1000 years ago. It was exciting to witness the execution just 15 minutes before Wall Street closed. It was a real honor to have made it from Guatemala to the rest of the world.

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Temple IV is the tallest building in the pre-Columbian America of about 74 meters above ground level. It has a pyramidal base of 124 x 160 meters. On this base the pyramid rises. It is built on the concept of truncated platforms and a single stairway facing the ledge. The pyramid is where the Temple was erected. It consists of three-chambered vaults, one after another, with walls being 27 meters thick. Originally, wooden lintels were embedded into in these constructions. One of these lintels was made of wood Chizo sapote (Manilkara zapota), depicting a seated figure having a two-headed snake on top. For this reason the temple is also known as the Temple of the Double-Headed Serpent.

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Several of these glyphs are located around the center of Tikal. Some of them are rather worn, but many scientists agree that these figures enshrine the real history of what the Mayan civilization was.

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The name of the Tikal emblem glyph (a human hair knot) was interpreted by David Stuart, the Mayanist scholar and the author of the book “Palenque: Eternal City of the Maya”. Hieroglyphic inscriptions at the ruins refer to the ancient city as Yax Mutul, meaning “First Mutal”. This might be the real name of the ancient Tikal. Mutul seems to be derived from knot meaning, though the true meaning of the whole word combination is unclear.

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The Great Jaguar remains an iconic image of Tikal in the jungle that remains loyal to the ruler. The image of Ah Cacau, also called Jaguar Paw, is represented in the crest of the pyramid protected by the jaguar rampant. This image has deteriorated with time but it still can be seen at nightfall.

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This pyramid and temple are the emblems of one of the world’s major civilizations. One of the greatest contributions to humanity is the Mayan calendar, which has served as the basis for the currently employed calendar.

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As for South Acropolis, very little has been revealed about it so far. According to archeological estimates, it is quite old since it has been built on 7 different platforms. Its origin can be traced to the Preclassic Period. However, it is still being excavated and studied. Its huge buildings are over 24 meters high; they have a square base covering 2.2 hectares. There are 4 major palaces around the central temple.

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The angle of light during sunrise and sunset makes it one of the most fascinating places to visit. It is also worth to take pictures of the birds of Tikal and the Temple in the distance.

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Tikal has represented a mystery to the mankind for centuries, having being abruptly abandoned by the Maya over 1000 years ago and covered by a relentless jungle. A journey through the jungle to reach the center of Tikal is full of adventure and excitement, with an air temperature over 36 degrees.

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This majestic archaeological gem comprises 576 square miles of forest around the ceremonial center. It took the University of Pennsylvania 13 years to unveil about 16 square miles of Tikal structures. However, there are more to discover in Tikal in future.

Pictures and story by Sergio Galindo