The Wars Between Calakmul and Tikal

Calakmul and Tikal were two rival kingdoms who fought each other multiple times for supremacy during the Classic period from the sixth century to 900 A.D.. The Kaanul or Snakes orchestrated a plan with a vision with new ideas to expand to rule the Maya civilization. The Snake Kings were able to prevail by using their political influence and expanded to create one of the greatest Maya Kingdoms.

For centuries Tikal was a superpower who dominated the low lands of the jungles of Peten in northern Guatemala until it was defeated by the Snakes in the sixth century. At the end of the fifth century Tikal held on to it supremacy perhaps because of the possible alliance 650 miles away with Teotihuacan which controlled Central Mexico and the exploitation and distribution of black and green Obsidian and manufactured military weapons that reached Tikal. In the sixth century the alliance with Teotihuacan and Tikal disengaged. It left Tikal in a dangerous position because it lost its most powerful political alliance in the west.

The Snake Kingdom recognized the position of Tikal and took that opportunity for political control and slowly used its power and influence to persuade cities in the Maya low lands as well as cities to the north of Tikal to form alliances with the Snakes. The Snakes were the best when it came to building and breaking alliances in the sixth century. The alliances were orchestrated for decades by the first Snake ruler by the name of Stone Hand Jaguar who probably based the Snake Kingdom in the city of Dzibanche which is located 80 miles northeast to Calakmul in Southern Mexico. According to Vance, no one’s sure where the Snakes came from; there’s no evidence of them ruling Calakmul before 635 AD. Some experts imagine them hundreds of years before the Classic era, moving from place to place, creating one mega city after another. But this is guesswork. The first obvious snake glyphs seem to appear in Dzibanche (Vance, 83). The Snakes were successful in in persuading the cities of Caracol and Waka to break the alliance with Tikal and switch sides to form an alliance with Stone Hand Jaguar. This allowed the Snake Kingdom to finally form a giant pincer with Tikal right in the center.

The other major cities which allied with the Snakes to encircle Tikal were Saknikte (La Corona), Holmul and Naranjo. Now the Snakes had the perfect opportunity to attack its main rival King Double Bird in Tikal. Stone Hand Jaguar died before the war began with Tikal. The Snake kingdom was transferred to his successor Sky Witness who led the offensive on Tikal. Sky Witness led his forces east from Waka while his allies attacked from the west. The Snakes along with its allies defeated and sacked the city of Tikal on April 29, 562. Ten years later Sky Witness died but because of his victory over Tikal the Kaanul dynasty would rule the Maya civilization for many years making Calakmul the largest political regional state that reigned in one of the most intense jungles in the world.

Images

Calakmul

Calakmul

The Kaanul or Snakes ruled from the ancient Maya city of Calakmul in present day southern Mexico. By the sixth century the Snake kingdom prevailed in expanding by using their political influence to defeat their main enemy Tikal located in present day northern Guatemala. The Snakes were successful in making alliances with the major cities around Tikal. Tikal was surrounded and defeated in the sixth century. View File Details Page

Tikal surrounded

Tikal surrounded

Stone Hand Jaguar worked for decades in persuading the cities around Tikal to join his Snake Kingdom. The cities of Caracol, Waka, Saknikte, Holmul, and Naranjo joined Stone Hand Jaguar giving them the perfect opportunity by forming a pincer around Tikal. Stone Hand Jaguar died before the war began and the Snake Kingdom was transferred to his successor Sky Witness who defeated King Double Bird of Tikal on April 29, 562. | Source: Eric Vance https://drive.google.com/openzid=0ByqGo2Qm7-umRkJWZUVfOTdPTGM View File Details Page

Calakmul vs Tikal

Calakmul vs Tikal

The war with the Snakes from Calakmul and Tikal began during the sixth century. The first Snake ruler by the name of Stone Hand Jaguar used his political influence to win over all of Tikal™s allies in the southern low lands as well as the cities to the north. Calakmul and their new allies prepared to attack when Tikal was finally surrounded. | Source: Eric Vance https://drive.google.com/openzid=0ByqGo2Qm7-umRkJWZUVfOTdPTGM View File Details Page

The grinning snake glyph

The grinning snake glyph

Experts speculate where the Kaanul came from before 635 A.D. because there is no evidence of them in Calakmul before that time. The first snake glyphs appeared in the city of Dzibanche which is located 80 miles northeast of Calakmul. Eventually the Snakes made their new capital in Calakmul replacing the original Bat kingdom. After that more snake glyphs began to appear in other location in the Maya world. View File Details Page

Tikal

Tikal

Tikal is located in Present day northern Guatemala. Before the sixth century Tikal was a superpower and dominated the low lands in the Jungles of Peten. Experts believe the city of Tikal held on to its supremacy for decades perhaps because of a possible political alliance with Teotihuacan who controlled Central Mexico. Teotihuacan controlled the Obsidian industry and provided military weapons through trade with Tikal. View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Roberto Venegas, “The Wars Between Calakmul and Tikal,” HistoricalMX, accessed November 24, 2017, http://historicalmx.org/items/show/81.
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