Temple I has been an icon of Classic Maya architecture since 1882

Tikal: Temple I

It is believed that the high roofcomb was once decorated with a seated sculpture sculpture of Jasaw Chan K'awil sitting in splendour.

Martin & Grube, Chronicle of the Maya Kings and Queens, p. 47

Alfred Maudslay's photo of Temple 1 from his Tikal Expedition of 1890-91

Alfred Maudslay's 1890 photo of Tikal Temple 1

From the Maudslay Collection, British Museum. Used with permission under the CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 non-commercial license. ©The Trustees of the British Museum.

This photo of Temple I was taken shortly after Alfred Maudslay had it cleared of encroaching jungle in 1890. Since then, it has captivated the popular imagination and come to epitomize classic Maya architecture.

In 1962, the rich burial of Jasaw Chan K'awiil was discovered beneath Temple I

Tikal: Temple I

"Temple I, the funerary shrine of Ah Cacau [now referred to as Jasaw Chan K'awil], was built after his death, probably under instructions he gave to his son and successor, Yax Kin Caan Chac [Yik'in Chan K'awil].

Ah Cacau's tomb was discovered underneath the shrine, north of the centerline of the pyramid.

On its summit is a three-room temple surmounted by a huge roof comb portraying the ruler seated on his throne; this temple undoubtedly served as his mortuary shrine.

Robert Sharer, The Ancient Maya, 160-163.

Looking up at the ceremonial platform fronting the Temple I entrance

Tikal: Temple I

A series of stacked platforms creates the pyramid effect, which is most easily seen on Temple I with its nine platforms and elegant proportions. From below the temple itself appears to be in the heavens.

Peter Harrison, The Lords of Tikal, p. 116

NOTE: In Maya mythology, there were nine levels of the underworld, which correspond to the nine platforms of the pyramid.

Temple 1 rises 154 feet above the Great Plaza

Tikal: Temple I