Copan: City of the Maya

By: Morgan & Tresilyn


Stephens, Catherwood, and their crew discovered a wealthy city in Honduras, left in ruins. They found glyphs that told of Mayan history. They started digging to find tolls, artwork, or every-day materials that would tell more of the city. They soon learned its name was Copan. More glyphs told of their famous rulers in the early A.D. They found tombs with skeletons that people thought were a few of the rulers, the tombs including jewelry, Jade, and other riches. People still visit Copan every day.


1. Copan began as a small agricultural settlement about 1000 BC.

2. It lies on the west bank of the Copan River, about 35 miles (56 km) west of the modern town of Santa Rosa Copan. The site was added to the World Heritage List in 1980.

3. It became an important Maya city during the Classic Period (c. AD 250-900).

4. At it's peak early in the 9th century it may have been home to as many as 20,000 people.

5. A dynasty of at least 16 kings ruled Copan from about 426 to 822, by which later date the city had entered a serious deadline.

6. The Maya had completely abandoned the site by about 1200.

7. Jade was very common in Copan, they also carved the jade.

8. They did not use any metal tools.

9. There is a city in Oklahoma called Copan.

10. In Copan $15 dollars in U.S. money could buy you a hamburger and fries.

11. Copan is an important site of Mayan civilization.

12. The Mayans had a writing system by 700 B.C.

(: Review Questions! :)

1. How did Stephens and Catherwood record their early findings at Copan?

A: Stephens wrote about it and Catherwood drew pictures of what he saw and thought the city had looked like.

2. What were some keys to decoding the ancient Mayan glyphs?

A: A man named Landa sounded out the letters of the Spanish alphabet and told a Mayan writer to write the matching glyph.

3. Why did the Maya perform so many rituals to satisfy their gods?

A: They believed their rulers came from a god and the city would only prosper if there was balance and harmony in the universe. They thought the balance would only achieve if the gods were satisfied.

4. Do you think it's important to explore and understand Mayan remains? Explain your answer.

A: We need to understand the Mayans' way of life because the best of life is when you learn to achieve the things no one understands or wants to understand.

5-Making Connections: Compare the ancient city of Copan with another place you've read about. How were their cultures alike or different?

A: Greece and Copan are alike because they both believe in multiple gods for different things.