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News > Culture

Copan Excavations In Honduras Reveal Royal Connections

  • Hieroglyphic staircase in Copan (Honduras)

    Hieroglyphic staircase in Copan (Honduras) | Photo: wikicommons

Published 3 September 2018

Scientists unearthing the Mayan ruins in Copan, Honduras are finding connections between royalty and the El Chorro community. 

Scientists from Honduras and China are working together to uncover the history of the ruins in Copan, Honduras to understand a particular Mayan community, El Chorro, and their relationship with the Copan royal court more than 1,400 years ago.

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Scientists from the Honduran Institute of Anthropology and History (IHAH) and the Institute of Archeology of the Academy of Social Sciences of China are investigating what’s called the 8N11 Group section of Honduras’ largest archeological site, to better understand the El Chorro community and its political and economic relationship with Copan Mayan royalty.

The excavations, which began in August 2015 and are expected to run until 2020. "In five years we hope to have investigated the entire complex and completed all restoration,” explained archaeologist Jorge H. Ramos from the INAH, in charge of the excavations.

Ramos says he’s starting to see similarities between the mosaics in El Chorro and those decorating the walls of what were royal buildings.

"It seems that the same school of sculptors who worked for the royal family also worked for the group (in El Chorro), as they are very similar in artistic and architectural style. This is the most advanced group in the Copan Valley," added the archaeologist.

The scientist told local media he thinks that if there were similarities in construction between the two places then there could have been a political connection between the inhabitants of El Chorro and the royal court.

"If there were a direct physical relationship and a political connection between the groups, it is probable that the families who lived in El Chorro were important to the members of the Royal Court,” concludes Ramos.

The finds so far are showing architectural connections between the El Chorro community and Mayan royalty starting with the tenth Copan ruler, Tzi B'alam (Luna Jaguar) who lead starting around 500 A.D., until the 16 ruler, Yax Pac. The height of the similarities occurred, however, during the time of Copans last two rulers.

During the three years of El Chorro, excavations scientist have also found funeral crypts and coffins containing human remains. Along the caskets offerings such as necklaces, vessels, pitchers, and glasses have also been excavated as it was common to find such items to accompany the Mayan who believe in life after death.

The Archaeological Park of Copan was declared a Unesco World Heritage site in 1982.

"The Copan ruins are the most important archaeological site in Honduras, a center where the investigations are continuous. The Mayan civilization follows us surprising every day,” says Hector Portillo, director IHAH.

“We need Hondurans to know more about their heritage," the director added.  

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