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The Pre-Columbian city of Copán is a locale in extreme western Honduras, adjacent to the Guatemalan border. It is the site of a major Maya kingdom of the Classic era.
The kingdom, anciently named Xukpi (Corner-Bundle), fluorished from the 5th century AD to the early 9th century, with antecedents going back to at least the 2nd century AD. It's name is an apparent reference to the fact that it was situated at the far southern and eastern end of Maya territory.
Stela H, detail
The city of Copan is perhaps best known for producing a remarkable series of portrait stelae, most of which were placed along processional ways in the central plaza of the city and the adjoining "acropolis" (a large complex of overlapping step-pyramids, plazas, and palaces). The stelae and elaborate sculptured decorations of the buildings of Copan are some of the very finest surviving art of ancient Mesoamerica
Xukpi was one of the more powerful Maya city states, although it suffered a catastrophic defeat at the hands of the kingdom at located at Quirigua in 738. It eventually withered in the face of the depletion of natural resources which was a factor in bringing most of the Classic-Age Maya city-states to their end.
By the time of the Spanish conquest of Honduras, the site had long been overgrown by rainforest. Although this large ruined city was known localy since early colonial times, it remained largely unknown by the outside world until a series of explorers visited it in the early 19th century, most notably North American explorer and travel writer John Lloyd Stephens and English architect and draftsman Frederick Catherwood[?] whose illustrated books describing Copan and other sites excited a great deal of interest in Mesoamerican antiquities among American and European scholars, and its publication is regarded as the commencement of modern Mayan studies which continue to this day. The site was the subject of one of the first modern archeological surveys and excavations in the Maya area, conducted by the Peabody Museum[?] and Harvard University from 1891 to 1894. Further excavations and restorations were begun by the Carnegie Institution[?] in the 1930s, the Peabody Museum again in the 1970s, followed by the Government of Honduras's Proyecto Copan beginning in the late 1970s and continuing to this day.
Here is a listing of known Xukpi rulers...
|K'inich Yax K'uk' Mo'||before 426-437|
|K'inich Popol Hol||c. 437|
|1 King, name unknown||c. 455|
|Cu Ix||c. 465|
|2 Kings, names unknown||476, 485|
|2 Kings, names unknown||last one died 553|
|Smoke Imix K'awiil||628-695|
|Uaxaclajuun Ub'aah K'awiil||695-738|
|K'ac Joplaj Chan K'awiil||738-749|
|K'ac Yipyaj Chan K'awiil||749-763|
|Yax-Pasaj Chan Yoaat||763-after 810|
|(probably vacant)|| |
|Royal ceremonial center of city abandoned||by 827|