The ruins of Copán (Honduras)

The ruins of Copán is just 10 km east on highway CA-11 from the border, and we camped at a Hotel in the town Copán Ruinas, which is just next to the ruins of Copán.

DSC03507_thumb The ruins of Copán (Honduras)

The guy in the reception was worried about our tent getting wet (it is the rainy season), like many other people we have met. So he offered that we could set up our tent on a covered porch. 30 minutes later it was raining, and waiting for the rain to stop I relaxed in the hammock next to the tent (left picture). We also made lunch on our stove from Trangia (the burner from PRIMUS fits into the stove). I think we had mashed potatoes with veggies, meat and mole. Our last bag of meat from Mexico… we have not found any canned meat (or meat in sealed bags) in Guatemala or Honduras, except from tuna. Going vegetarian…?

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The rain didn’t stop, but became a drizzle and we decided to visit the ruins. Though it rains, it never gets really cold, we guested that the temperature still was 20-25 degrees Celsius and humid.

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Copán is one of the most important Maya cities, and during the Classic period (AD 250-900) the city at Copán Ruinas culturally dominated the region. People have been living in the Copán valley since at least 1200 BC, and graves have showed, that the Olmec’s (who also was at Teotihuacan in Mexico) had a marked influence dated to around 900-600 BC. The pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan was completed around 100 AD. In comparison Coliseum in Rome was complete in 80 AD.

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Several kings have ruled in Copán during the years, the 15th king “Kák´Yipyaj Chan Káwiil” (also called Smoke Shell, ruled from 749-763 AD) was one of the greatest builders of Copán. He build the famous Hieroglyphic Stairway (“Escalinata de los Jeroglificos”), which immortalizes the achievements of the dynasty from its establishment until 755 AD. The stairway is the longest inscription ever discovered in the Maya lands.

DSC03517_thumb The ruins of Copán (Honduras)

Most of the inscriptions at Copán are very short relating specific ritual and dedicatory information. The exception is the Hieroglyphic Stairway that you see in the upper picture. In more than 2000 hieroglyphs on 63 steps, the test recounts much of the dynastic history, beginning with references to King “K’inich Yax K’uk’ Mo” the fonder of the dynasty.

Just walking around, up and down

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Also getting some pretty cool close up pictures

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The old grumpy man

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Came to the east court that is known for the high relief jaguar sculptures

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Getting to a viewpoint over “The Cemetery”, which was a residential area of Copán´s royal elite families and their attendants. There were over 25 buildings here. The majority of people were buried next to where they lived, as was common practice. This is maybe the reason that at true cemetery has never been found in the area of Copán.

DSC03589_thumb The ruins of Copán (Honduras)

Two places at Copán tunnels have been dug to discover earlier buildings, that has been buried underneath newer building. This was also discovered at the ruins of Teotihuacan in Mexico. The structures that you seen on our pictures is restored structures of the latest version of three older substructures on the same location.

DSC03518-2_thumb The ruins of Copán (Honduras)

The collapse of the civilization at Copán happen when the population grew at an unprecedented rate and Copán was no longer agriculturally self-sufficient. Skeletal remains of people who died during Copán’s final years show marked evidence of malnutrition and infectious diseases, as well as decreased life spans.

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The sculls are placed on the building below

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We enjoyed our visit to Copán, because it was very different from Teotihuacan in Mexico. Here in Copán you between and on the building in the middle of the jungle. The jungle including the big old trees on the buildings, gave us an insight how nature takes over and completely hides what is man made. This is the reason why ancient structures can still be discovered today after so many years. Everywhere we looked, we could see what was left of smaller buildings. Rectangular stones in piles.

Goodbye Copán

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