文化遺産国際協力コンソーシアム Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage JCIC-Heritage logo JCIC-Heritage

Management of the world heritage sites of Maya Civilization: North Acropolis project at Tikal

Management of the world heritage sites of Maya Civilization: North Acropolis project at Tikal

Kanazawa University

Guatemala

The Tikal National Park

2012-2016 Human Resource Development,Conservation and Restoration,Local Development,Fundamental Research,Awareness Raising and Promotional Activities,Installation and Improvement of Facilities,Provision of Equipment
01/03/2013
NEXT

BACKGROUND

Japan’s international contribution to the Tikal National Park, mixed world heritage site

Tikal National Park, the Republic of Guatemala

Guatemala is a country where native Mayans make up nearly half of the population, and it is a land throughout which the ancient Maya civilization prospered. Tikal National Park, located in the northern part of the country, was registered as a mixed world heritage site by UNESCO in 1979. In terms of natural heritage, it is a tropical rain forest of rich biodiversity extending over 576 square kilometers. As for cultural heritage, it is one of the largest ancient city ruins of Maya civilization, encompassing 100 square kilometers of urban area that was ruled by thirty-three kings or more between the 2nd and 10th centuries AD. In the 1960s, an extensive investigation, including large scale excavation and restoration of ancient structures, was conducted in Tikal after a part of tropical jungle had been cleared beginning in 1956. In the 1980s the site became the subject of tourism-oriented projects, among which was the construction of an airport outside the park, together with a paved road connecting the airport and the Tikal site. The site has become one of the most popular cultural tourist sites in the country.

The establishment of the Center for Conservation and Investigation of the Cultural Heritage at Tikal National Park (CCIT)

While the Tikal National Park has seen remarkable development as a cultural tourist site, problems have emerged regarding restored structures due to insufficient conservation and maintenance management of the ruins. Recognizing the urgent need to resolve the situation, the government of Guatemala requested us to carry out a cultural cooperation project under the auspices of the Japan Foundation in 2005 to investigate the current status of cultural heritage in Tikal National Park and the feasibility of cooperation. Based on the outcome of the investigation, the Center for Conservation and Investigation of the Cultural Heritage at Tikal National Park (CCIT) was built under an agreement between the two countries, using the scheme of Cultural Grant Assistance administered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan in 2010, with a view to carrying out a sustainable and long-term international cooperation project despite the harsh natural environment of the tropical rain forest.

An overview of the Center for Conservation and Investigation of the Cultural Heritage at Tikal National Park (CCIT)

Structure 5D-22 in the North Acropolis, showing the state of erosion and dissolution

Plastered stone mask at North Acropolis covered with mold and moss

ACTIVITIES

Kanazawa University’s project at the Tikal Center for Conservation and Investigation of Cultural Heritage (CCIT)

Tikal Center for Conservation and Investigation of Cultural Heritage (CCIT) as a hub for broad international cooperation

The establishment of CCIT is the core project of a broadly-based cooperative plan organized collectively by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, the Japan Foundation, JICA, and universities and research institutions in Japan, to support the conservation and enhancement of utilization of the world heritage sites of the ancient Maya civilization which existed in an area crossing the borders of five countries from Mexico to Central America. This Center was built at Tikal in Guatemala, the centre of Classic Maya civilization, but we anticipate that our project will lead to international cooperation with other countries that are carrying out conservation and enhancement of utilization of world heritage sites of the Maya civilization.

Kanazawa University project

Kanazawa University signed an agreement with the Vice-ministry of Cultural and Natural Heritage of the Ministry of Culture and Sports of Guatemala in June 2011 with a view to taking part in the project as a representative of Japan’s research and educational institutions. And on the same day, the Institute of Human and Social Sciences exchanged a memorandum of understanding with the Vice-ministry of Cultural and Natural Heritage of the Ministry of Culture and Sports of Guatemala with view to carrying out research and conservation of Tikal site while undertaking a comprehensive heritage management project in Tikal to deal comprehensively with proposals ranging from planning of investigation and restoration at the Tikal site to general conservation studies, and development of the site as a community resource. After CCIT was established and handed over to the government of Guatemala in July 2012, Kanazawa University commenced a heritage management project to carry out detailed research on the North Acropolis based at this Center. Our goal is to undertake the first phase of our research by March 2016, by carrying out excavation and conservation work on places that have not yet been investigated, in addition to drawing up a comprehensive, area-wide conservation plan and utilization program for the site in consultation with the Guatemalan authorities.

Surveying of the North Acropolis

North Acropolis seen from the Temple 1

RESULTS

Assessment by Guatemalan staff and outlook for the future

Assessment by Guatemalan staff

The CCIT was the first permanent institution equipped with up-to-date research instruments to be established in the Tikal National Park. At the opening ceremony, the President of Guatemala expressed his gratitude to the Japanese government for its cooperation. The Ministry of Culture and Sports of Guatemala anticipates that this institution will play a major role in the development of human resources through the advancement of joint research and cross cultural and academic exchange between students and scholars from both Japan and Guatemala.

Tasks and prospects

Two major tasks may be raised: first, the Guatemalan government must take responsibility for the long-term maintenance and management of the CCIT as the hub of the project. Secondly, the CCIT should support the ongoing trend toward cooperation and collaboration among Maya civilization heritage parks in various countries, and promote their independence by cooperating on educational programs concerning heritage management as a comprehensive field of research. Furthermore, we look forward to developing the current North Acropolis project in Tikal in conjunction with our leading graduate program for training cultural resource managers.

The Guatemalan President, giving a speech at the opening ceremony of the Center for Conservation and Investigation of the Cultural Heritage at Tikal National Park

The signing of the memorandum for the project in Tikal (photograph by Kanazawa University)

MAP