Album 5 - Copn Archaeological Site, The Mayan Ruins, Honduras

Monday, December 19, 2005 -  This was the day we decided to tour the famous Mayan ruins just east of town.  This famous site was designated by UNESCO as a "world heritage site."  This is the main reason large number of international visitors come to this area.  For a nice summary of this site, we recommend a visit to this Wikipedia Copn web page.


1

The site is only 1 km east of town. Even with a morning of light showers, it is an easy, pleasant walk, so we forego the tuk-tuk ride.
2

Even before we approach the entrance we come across several well protected artifacts (stela 6 here).
3

This paved path (passing stela 5)  is well laid out, making it very easy to find the entrance.
4

Actually the entrance to the site is just past this Texaco station where the "motor taxis" are filling up for a day of shuttling folks around this area.
5

Inside the main gate, but before we enter the visitor's center, we make the wisest decision of the day - that is to hire one of the knowledgeable professional guides (entrance fee $10US; guide for 2+ hrs. $25US - worth every penny).
6

As we enter the "Great Plaza," Keith listens to our guide, Tony, give an excellent & interesting introduction to the history of this special site - He spent a lot of energy trying to tell us the names of the deities & the various motifs & symbols. 
7

Carrying a pointer stick tipped with a feather so as not to damage the artifacts, Tony starts the explanations of the stelas (or estelas) & hieroglyphs. 
8

One of the beautifully carved stelas (Stela A) from around the year 731AD  represents one of the kings that ruled this area, probably "18 Rabbit," the 13th ruler. 
9

We remember this as "Altar G" with its 2 headed snake. It dates from around 800AD (16th ruler "Yax Pac").
10

This stela is a portrait of 18 Rabbit, the 13th ruler & a very prominent figure in the history of this place.
11

This Stela is believed to be of the father of 18 Rabbit.  "Smoke Jaguar" ruled from 628-695.
12

This is one view of the "ballcourt" or Juego de Pelota, where sometimes winners or losers were sacrificed.
13

This photo shows the typical arch used in this early Mayan construction.
14

Stela N dates from 761 AD & the next to last ruler, the 15th, "Smoke Shell." This rests at the base of the great hieroglyphic stairway
15

Taking a break from all these fantastic bits of archaeological history, we enjoy this huge & magnificent "monkey tree."
16

This ancient "smiley face" makes us smile too.
17

On what is known as Temple 11, Tony explains more history of this ancient place.
18

Also on Temple 11, Peg & Tony pose with the sacred ball court in the background.
19

Sometimes older guys need a rest, this in front of some recent reconstruction. Peg asked Tony if people report feeling this is a special & spiritual place, he said "Yes, especially Californians."..!!
20

The ancient rocks & rubble hold their own histories & pleasures in this special place.  Having such an expert guide made all of this so much more meaningful.
21

This is a distant view of other explorers enjoying the grandeur of Copn. Later we met several young tourists who were bewildered by all this because they opted to not use any guide service.
22

Tony & Keith descend toward an ancient court over stone steps that have been there for eons.
23

The Schnoz in profile relief documents an ancient sense of humor & Keith senses something familiar!.
24

The age of these trees growing out of the ruins give evidence of the antiquity of the place.
25

An emotional exhale occurred as Peg stepped over the temple crest & viewed El Cementerio which so eloquently spoke of former lives. 
26

The famous Altar Q which depicts the genealogy of the 16 rulers of Copn.
27

Keith, the genealogist, stands with this document of the Mayan genealogy that proves the lineage of ancient rulers of this domain.
28

Tony leaves us to allow us to spend as much time as we'd like in this unique and spiritual place.
29

Little rooms and benches refuse to give up their secrets.  We can only wonder about the function of them.
30

Leaving the cemetery area, we experience some of the recent storm damage of a fallen tree.
31

Returning to the entrance, we enjoy again, the colorful parrots that are fairly tame and very photogenic.
32

These colorful birds are protected at night and fed during the day so they have a reason to stay around to the delight of the many tourists.
33

This rabbit sized critter ("Agouti") is claimed to be the largest, or one of the largest rodents.  Suska was able to spot a few of these elusive animals on the island, but here they are tamer because they are fed in the same area as the parrots. 

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