I'll wrap up these posts on Copán with a few random tidbits I learned that I think are just plain cool. Walking around the site, one really does get the feeling of stepping into a world one thousand years old. It was fun visualizing what the city would have looked like full of people carrying out their daily lives - drawing water from the river, buying and selling food and clothes in the market, going to the temples, working on the almost constant construction projects, and gathering to watch that ancient mayan ball game whose name escapes me (to be explained later...) or listen to one of the intellectuals speaking in the auditorium.
First things first- I meant to include the above pic in yesterday's post. On the south side of this huge temple is the Hieroglyphic Stairway, which holds the longest pre-Columbian hieroglyphic inscription in America and is one of the most remarkable monuments built by the maya during the Classic Period. Most inscriptions at Copán are very short, relating specific ritual and dedicatory information on the monuments. The exception is the Hieroglyphic Stairway. In over two thousand hieroglyphs on 63 steps, the text recounts much of the dynastic history of Copán, beginning with references to its founder, K'uk' Mo'.
As with the temple I mentioned in yesterday's post, the Hieroglyphic Stairway was built on top of a series of previously existing structures, some built almost 300 years before the Heiroglyphic stairway was built. In the photo above, a huge tarp stretches over the entire structure in order to prevent rain from flooding the many tunnels that archeologists have dug to explore the buried temples.
Okay, so I mentioned a ball game. Mayans all across mesoamerica played a variation of this ball game that involved a solid rubber ball that weighed about 10 pounds, which had to be struck with the knees, chest, head, and elbows towards a post that was a sculpture of a scarlet macaw.
|Looks kinda like lotus pose.|
|This picture represents a huge part of mayan spiritual beliefs. It portrays a man being swallowed by a snake and then emerging, purified, on the other side. This reveals the mayan emphasis on purification and reincarnation through death.|