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Maya City of Tikal Invades Uaxactun

The city of Tikal in modern-day Guatemala started as a small farming village around 600 BC and gradually grew into a Maya megacity by the first century AD. It competed with the Maya city of El Mirador for domination until the latter’s decline and Tikal filled the vacuum of power left by its neighboring city. Its leaders launched conquests to the surrounding Maya cities for domination, which included Naranjo, Rio Azul, and Uaxactun. This event is recorded on the Biblical Timeline Chart with World History around 378 AD.

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“Stela 5 at Takalik Abaj”

In 378 AD, Tikal was conquered by Siyaj K’ak’ (whose name means “Born of Fire”).  Siyaj K’ak’ was originally from the Central Mexican city of Teotihuacan. He took over the city violently as shown by the mutilated and broken stelae recovered from Tikal from this period. He also killed the city’s ruler Chak Tok Ich’aak I or Great Jaguar Paw during this campaign. Now that he had full control of Tikal, he set his sight into Uaxactun, a city 12 miles north of his newly-conquered one.

In the same year, Siyaj K’ak’ invaded the city of Uaxactun, captured its ruler, and executed him as a human sacrifice. The Uaxactun Stela 5 was carved to commemorate Siyaj K’ak’s conquest of the city and not far from the stela was the tomb of several people who were killed during the invasion. The tomb contained the bones of the wives of Uaxactun’s former ruler (one of whom was pregnant), as well as two children. Uaxactun was absorbed by Tikal after this conquest.

Picture By Simon BurchellOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Cremin, Aedeen, ed. The World Encyclopedia of Archaeology. Buffalo, NY: Firefly Books, 2007
Sharer, Robert J., and Loa P. Traxler. The Ancient Maya. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2006
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