Stela detail from the Mayan archaeological of Copán, western Honduras, not far from the border with Guatemala.
It was the capital city of a major Classic period kingdom from the 5th to 9th centuries AD.
Discovered in 1570 by Diego García de Palacio, the ruins of Copán, one of the most important sites of the Mayan civilization, were not excavated until the 19th century. The ruined citadel and imposing public squares reveal the three main stages of development before the city was abandoned in the early 10th century.
From what is known today, the sculpture of Copán appears to have attained a high degree of perfection. The Acropolis, a magnificent architectural complex, appears today as a large mass of rubble which came about through successive additions of pyramids, terraces and temples. The world’s largest archaeological cut runs through the Acropolis. In the walls of the cut, it is possible to distinguish floor levels of previous plazas and covered water outlets.
During the period when Mayan civilization spread across Central America, Copán was the largest and most influential city in the south-eastern sector.