Photograph of Temple III (left), Temple II (center), and Temple IV (right), taken from the top of Temple I
Temple II InformationThe eighth-century Tikal king Jasaw Chan K'awiil commissioned Temple II, and possibly Temple I, during his reign. Temple II is dedicated to his wife, Lady Twelve Macaw (died 704 A.D.), and she is interred within it.
Though its roof comb is now eroded, Temple II has also been known as the Temple of the Masks because its upper frieze was once adorned with gigantic stone and stucco masks. Roof combs were used as grand billboards for the display of religious and political imagery.
In contrast to Egyptian pyramids, to which they are often erroneously compared, Maya 'step pyramids' served numerous functions besides mortuary ones, and were constructed not from large, solid stone blocks but from smaller, cut stone blocks on top of a rubble-fill core.
As Tikal today receives a great number of visitors annually, preservation of the original structures has become a priority for site authorities. The fragility of the original stairs of Temple II, which have also seen a number of accidents over the years due to their steepness and lack of handrails, have caused site management to close them off to visitors.