Aguateca is an important and well-excavated ancient Maya ceremonial site in Guatemala’s Petén Region.
History of Aguateca
Thought to have been one of the two capitals of the Maya Dynasty in the region – together with Dos Pilas – from around 700 AD, Aguateca was a vital stronghold thanks to its natural defences – cliffs and a ravine. In fact, in the eighth century, Dos Pilas was abandoned and its people sheltered at Aguateca. Carved stelae on site detail Aguateca’s military successes and have greatly helped historians decipher Aguateca’s history.
The city was finally abandoned sometime around 800AD – arrowheads and skeletons, the remains of burnt buildings, and scattered valuables imply that the city was attacked and partly destroyed by invaders, leading to its sudden abandonment.
The remains of the city suggest that it was a centre for craft production and trade: obsidian was found in quite large quantities, which is evidence of trade with other city states. A half constructed temple has also been unearthed, which provided insights into Maya building processes and materials.
Aguateca is located in northern Guatemala, in the region of Petén. It’s relatively remote, accessible only by motorboat from the nearby town of Sayaxché, via the Río Petexbatún: the journey takes just under an hour each way. Sayaxché itself is off the main highway PET-11 to Flores – buses should be able to drop you there.