Occupied for over a thousand years, Tikal was a functioning city from Pre-Classic times (600 BC250 AD), reaching it's height during the Late Classic period (600900 AD). It has been known to Western scholars and explorers since the 19th Century through the detailed 1881 drawings of Alfred Maudslay and the 1895 & 1904 photographs of Teobert Maler. The monuments and inscriptions of Tikal were recorded by Sylvanus Morley as part of his pioneering study of Maya hieroglyphic texts in the early 1920's. In 1956 the University Museum of the University of Pennsylvania initiated the Tikal Project, which was to continue for fifteen years under Edwin Shook initially, with William Coe the field director for the last seven years.
"Judged by almost any standard, the Tikal Project was conducted on an unprecedented scale for Maya archaeology. By its final year, in 1970, its professional staff over the years had totaled one-hundred-thirteen archaeologists. After 1970, excavations of the buildings and their consolidation continued under the direction of two expert Guatemalan archaeologists, C. Rudy Larios and Miguel Orrego, working under the auspices of the Instituto de Antropologia e Historia de Guatemala."
Sharer, The Ancient Maya, pp. 272-273