Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Mayan Ruins of Copan

Today we skipped out on the last few hours of the conference and went to see the ruins after which the town is named. The first Mayan king here was in 425 AD and their civilization lasted 400 years. Ryan, our friend Erin, and I toured around these ancient ruins with our tour guide Jose. It was a great experience and well worth the money.
This was part of a 27,000 person stadium. No kidding. These are the seats that look down on an arena. Copan was the intellectual and artistic capitol of the Mayan civilization, so the king had access to astrologers. At the end of this arena was a temple in the shape of a snake's head. He would go in and talk to the Mayan god and come out and proclaim new decrees like, God told me you must work harder, pay more taxes, and I should take more wives. Then he would say, if you don't believe me, he also said there would be a great darkness today. And since the king knew when the eclipse was coming... well, you get the picture.

The area in the two pictures above was all buried under rubble until 14 years ago! They estimate that only 25% of the ruins have been excavated so far. To get a sense of how big it is, try to look for the little people down in the lower level of the first of these two pictures.

There were a dozen or so Macaws that were kept in the ruins. The Mayans had carved Macaw heads all over the place. They played a sporting event where five players on a team used an eight pound solid rubber ball (made from the sap of a rubber tree) and tried to score points by throwing it at a huge, caved Macaw head target. At this point the audience would yell "Mccaaaaaaaaaaw!" OK, I don't know if that's what they yelled, but get this, the winner of the event won the "honor" of being sacrificed. And the blood of ball players was considered the third most potent for sacrifices, right after virgins and kings. Sounds like America: sports, sex, and power.

This is the great great grandfather of Sam the Eagle from the Muppets.

This is the market area. In the back of the picture you can see some statues under a metal roof for protection. These are some of the many statues erected by the 13th Mayan king whose name is, get this, Eighteen Rabbits. What the heck kind of name is that? That has got to be the weirdest name I have ever heard. For the rest of the day I called myself Half a Dozen Donuts in honor of my breakfast.

This is Ryan and a statue of the "Dancing Jaguar". Ryan is on the right.

And this guy with the goofy expression is me, thinking that I can't wait to get back to the hotel wi-fi and blog about my day.

1 comment:

David_Fait said...

I vote we visit here the next time a larger group is in Honduras. This looks very neat.