Copan is located in the western part of Honduras, about 10 miles (16km) from the border with Guatemala. Copan – known as Xukpi to the Maya – was the dominant Mayan city in the south of their territory. Its rich stone sculptures and intricate hieroglyphs make Copan a feature attraction along “La Ruta Maya”.
The Copan Ruins were discovered by Diego Garcia de Palacio in 1570! Yet excavation only started in the 19th century. This site is one of the most cities of the Mayan civilization and was put under UNESCO protection in 1980. The citadel and imposing public squares reveal the three main stages of development before the city was abandoned in the early 10th century. The Hieroglyphic Stairway includes the longest single glyphic text found at any Maya site. When it was discovered, the blocks were found tumbled down on the ground in disarray. Archaeologists struggled to assemble the blocks in their correct positions. It now appears that the stairway commemorates Copan Rulers 1 through 15 and was built by Smoke Shell. Among other things, it records the death of 18 Rabbit.
During the reign of its most illustrious king, Waxak Lahun Ubah K’awil (also known as “18 Rabbit”), the royal sculptors of Copan displayed their innovative talents in many stelae that 18 Rabbit commissioned, as illustrated here with Stelae A. Erected in A.D. 731, 18 Rabbit depicts himself as Chak.