"The Peten contains the most ancient Classic Maya sites. Their form is best described as island cities or archipelago cities, consisting of many groups of platforms and buildings on knolls and shoulders of hilly land rising above the surrounding swamps, which may have been lakes or water-holes in antiquity. Tikal has nine groups of courts and plazas, separated by ravines but connected by causeways and ramps. The free-standing pyramid was the dominant form...used by Maya architects."
George Kubler, The Art & Architecture of Ancient America, p. 207