Audience versions of this page: FamilyOn January 16, 378, a Maya king, Jaguar Paw, was killed in what is now Tikal, Guatemala. Jaguar Paw’s death was probably a result of the arrival of an invading army from Teotihuacan, a city in the highlands of the Valley of Mexico, near what is today Mexico City, Mexico. The invading Teotihuacano army did not destroy the Maya, however—they helped expand the culture’s sphere of influence to its greatest extent.Tikal was a thriving city by the time the Teotihuacanos arrived. More than 10,000 people lived in the city, deep in the rain forest of Central America. Jaguar Paw’s enormous stone palace is still standing, the center of one of Guatemala’s most popular national parks. The written Maya language was a sophisticated series of hieroglyphics, only deciphered in the 20th century.The Teotihuacano period in Tikal’s history contributed to an even more advanced Maya civilization. The city grew to more than 90,000 people. Agricultural techniques such as irrigation, composting, and terracing began to thrive throughout the lowland Maya kingdom. Maya pyramids served as observatories where astronomers calculated seasonal and meteorological changes. Tikal became part of a trade network expanding from the mountains of what is today southern Guatemala (where jade was exported); to Teotihuacan and the Valley of Mexico to the west (where obsidian was exported) and both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts of Central America (where salt—difficult to find in the rain forest—was exported to Tikal).The Maya civilization of Tikal dominated the lowland region in northern Central America for more than 500 years. Long before Europeans arrived in the New World, the Maya had lost their power to civilizations such as the Aztec, Acolhua, and Tepanec.
Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry army Noun
military land forces.
person who studies space and the universe beyond Earth's atmosphere.
to reach a conclusion by mathematical or logical methods.
large settlement with a high population density.
complex way of life that developed as humans began to develop urban settlements.
Encyclopedic Entry: civilization coast Noun
edge of land along the sea or other large body of water.
Encyclopedic Entry: coast compost Noun
mixture of decaying organic material, such as food waste and plants.
Encyclopedic Entry: crop cultivate Verb
to encourage the growth of something through work and attention.
learned behavior of people, including their languages, belief systems, social structures, institutions, and material goods.
to figure out or interpret.
to overcome an enemy or obstacle.
to ruin or make useless.
to overpower or control.
to grow or get larger.
to transport goods to another place for trade.
hieroglyphics Plural Noun
written language using images to represent words.
highlands Plural Noun
plateau or elevated region of land.
to enter and attack.
watering land, usually for agriculture, by artificial means.
Encyclopedic Entry: irrigation kingdom Noun
type of government with a king or queen as its leader, or the land ruled by that king or queen.
Encyclopedic Entry: kingdom language Noun
set of sounds, gestures, or symbols that allows people to communicate.
people and culture native to southeastern Mexico and Central America.
study of weather and atmosphere.
Encyclopedic Entry: meteorology national park Noun
geographic area protected by the national government of a country.
series of links along which movement or communication can take place.
New World Noun
the Western Hemisphere, made up of the Americas and their islands.
place or building equipped and used for making observations of astronomical, meteorological, or other natural phenomena, usually equipped with powerful telescopes.
black glass formed as lava cools above ground.
large home or mansion, often the home of a leader or dignitary.
rain forest Noun
area of tall, mostly evergreen trees and a high amount of rainfall.
Encyclopedic Entry: Rain forest region Noun
any area on Earth with one or more common characteristics. Regions are the basic units of geography.
Encyclopedic Entry: region sophisticated Adjective
knowledgeable or complex.
sphere of influence Noun
area or region where a nation or cultural group has cultural, economic, military, or political influence.
(200-750) ancient civilization in what is now central Mexico.
flat surface created on a steep hillside.
to develop and be successful.
buying, selling, or exchanging of goods and services.