Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Copan ruins are awesome

Looking into the acropolis where main events were held is such a humbling experience.

Zoe standing near the carving of "Old Man's Head"

One of the massive retaining walls the Mayans built to house this grand site are over 200 feet in some places

The seats in the arena were made with giant blocks approx. 6 feet long by 18 inches high and 36 inches deep. These large stones are all over the place by the thousands and certainly not the largest by any means.

Yes, these trees are gigantic just see the people to the side of the tree

Zoe and Sierra loved watching the Scarlett Macaws. A couple of times they flew quite low, literally inches above the girls heads.This was a quite a scene to observe when the girls screeched with joy. 

The monolith, of royalty past, is huge and constructed from one piece of stone, notice the carvings

Zoe in front of a well preserved statue with intricate carvings of a past king

This statue still has red tint from its glory days which was about 800 years ago

There are 63 steps representing 300 years of dynastic rule. Each face of each step has detailed hieroglyphics explaining the order and significance of the empire's history. Specialized 3-D photographs are being taken at this site to give archeologists additional tools to read the glyphs.  

This is Mike...
We are very happy that we decided last week to make the detour to Copan, Honduras. The town is cute and small, an easy walking community. The surrounding mountains have a lot to offer and are easily accessible with a 4x4. The Copan-Maya were all over the region and are most well known for their amazing art. The best part about this site, over other Maya sites, is that the relative dryness in this area preserved the ruins quite well. So, walking around this complex is a completely different experience than prior ones. Also, one cannot help but be struck by the fact that the Maya actually built the massive site into the hills. By doing this, they literally raised the elevation of the valley nearly 200 feet in some areas so that they could have a flat building area for the temples, royal palaces, game areas, etc. The amount of work must have been staggering let alone moving the large monoliths weighing many tons into place. The stone benches in the arena are heavier than most cars and if you look a while, they are so plentiful, they start look like pebbles. It is not just the shear work load but also the exactitude of the structures and the purposefulness of the whole site. Nothing was done by chance and everything was by design. Also unique to these Mayan ruins is the nearby ancient village of  Las Sepulturas that show how the regular Mayan folks lived a millennia ago. All-in-all, this area is deserving of the UNESCO world heritage designation. Elise and I, would rank the Mayan ruins in order of preference as follows:
1. Tikal (the magnitude of the complex and the wild animals make this magnificent)
2. Copan (the well preserved hieroglyphs and carvings as well as the birds set this place apart)
3. Chichen-Itza (the amazing ball court and observatory are amazing if you can see beyond all the tourists)
4. Pelenque (the unique towers and grand halls separate it from other complexes but is also very touristy)
5. Xuntantinich (the eery other worldly feelings one can get at these ruins are palpable)        

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