Copan II: The Late Classic, Terminal Classic, and Postclassic Periods

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 82nd Annual Meeting, Vancouver, BC (2017)

In this session, scholars present new data on the Copan Valley, and other closely-linked sites, in the latter half of the Late Classic period, and during the Postclassic period. The most important ruler of this era was Ruler 16, Yax Pasaj Chan Yopaat, who governed for 47 years. Following his death, only one unfinished monument was dedicated, Altar L, which features Ukit Took’, the 17th Ruler. Debates exist as to the potential causes of the cessation of the construction of monumental architecture at Copan and the large demographic drop that occurs in the ninth century CE. Scholars have questioned whether Copan was completely abandoned and if so, when, as well as investigated to what degree the hinterlands were or weren’t abandoned. New work on ceramics, lithics, the environment, and recent excavations will add to the ongoing conversation concerning Copan’s ancient and more recent past. Rather than review previous hypotheses, researchers will present new data concerning Copan. The Postclassic history of the valley, in particular, has benefited in the last decade from the excavation of post-collapse occupations such as at the site of Rastrojon and around the center of Rio Amarillo.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-9 of 9)

  • Documents (9)

  • Community Resilience in the Río Amarillo East Pocket: Commoner Occupation around Río Amarillo and Quebrada Piedras Negras at the end of Late Classic through Postclassic Periods (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Edy Barrios. Cameron L. McNeil. Mauricio Díaz. Antolín Velásquez. Walter Burgos.

    Recent and ongoing research at residential groups at the sites of Río Amarillo and Quebrada Piedras Negras are providing a better understanding of the lives of commoners and of the population dynamics during the Late Classic through the Postclassic period in this area. These sites share the second-widest pocket of the Copan River Valley, and lie in the middle of one of the main trade routes between Copan and Quirigua. The excavations and mapping of the household groups distributed in this...

  • The Consequences of State Collapse: Evidence from the San Lucas Neighborhood during the Terminal Classic (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kristin Landau.

    Understanding the growth and dissolution of state entities has long been a topic of anthropological inquiry. More recently, archaeologists are promulgating dynamic and careful conceptions of how leaders acquire power, and whether and why surrounding residents may support them. By turning our attention to the political economic relationship between Maya rulers and the local population, we can identify successful and failed attempts to maintain states. In this paper, I combine political...

  • Creeping Collapse at Copan (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only David Webster.

    Over the last decade archaeologists have shifted from dramatic accounts of collapse to more nuanced narratives of decline and disruption, resilience and recovery. This shift partly reflects richer archaeological data, and partly fashion. Although Copan has long been a poster-child for the Classic Maya collapse, the history of research there has long prefigured this shift in archaeological perception and contributed importantly to it.

  • Investigating Ancient Foodways in the Copan Valley: Macrobotanicals from Late Classic, Terminal Classic, and Postclassic Middens in the Río Amarillo East Pocket (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Anarrubenia Capellin Ortega. Anarrubenia P. Capellin Ortega. Cameron L. McNeil. Edy Barrios.

    In this paper, the analysis of macroremain samples from household contexts in the Río Amarillo East Pocket will be discussed. The analysis of these samples is part of a larger project to define the use of the environment by ancient inhabitants of the valley. Following upon the efforts of earlier projects such as PAC I and PAC II, we plan to assess macroremains from a diversity of groups and time periods to illuminate ancient consumption patterns. Hopefully, this data will increase our...

  • Material Culture Correlates of Polity Restructuring and Decline: Changes in Ceramic Production and Use at the End of the Late Classic Period in the Copan Valley (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Cassandra Bill.

    Features of material culture can be actively constructed and transparently manipulated to various sociopolitical ends, with the installation of elaborate monuments and possession of ornate goods making bold statements of power and authority. While other more common elements of material culture may provide perhaps less conspicuous commentary on the "state of the union," they can also be equally symbolic of the conditions under which they were created. This paper examines the material culture...

  • Political Dynamics and the Organization of Chert Production in the Copán Valley (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Nathan Meissner. Marc Marino. Emmalea Gomberg.

    This study focuses on the social aspects of craft production among outlying populations of the greater Copán Valley of Honduras during the Late Classic to Early Postclassic transition (A.D. 800-1200). Lithic data from four valley sites including Rastrojón, Río Amarillo, Quebrada Piedras Negras, and Site 29 are compared to elucidate raw material procurement strategies and methods of chert reduction by local producers. Interesting differences emerge among the sites concerning changes in raw...

  • Reconstructions of 8N-11 and Reforms of Late Classic Copan (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only XinWei Li. Jorge Ramos.

    8N-11 is a sub-royal elite residential compound located at the end of the eastern causeway (sac be) in the densely settled Las Sepulturas zone about 850 m from the Copan Main Group. Monumental architecture, carving style and representations of figures with royal attributes demonstrate the high status that residents of the 8N-11 enjoyed in Copan society. In collaboration with the Honduran Institute of Anthropology and History and the Anthropology Department of Harvard University, Project IACASS...

  • Tracing Pathways of Power, Identity, and Landscape at Río Amarillo, Copan Valley, Honduras (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Cameron McNeil. Edy Barrios. Bryce Brown. Richard Terry. Shanti Morell-Hart.

    During the Late Classic period, the ancient community of Río Amarillo was actively engaged in the politics of the city of Copan, whether willingly or not. Some have suggested that the fertile bajos of the Río Amarillo East Pocket may have produced food for the city to its west, ameliorating shortages that could have arisen due to its rising population. Archaeological research conducted by the Proyecto Arqueológico Río Amarillo, Copan (PARAC) since 2011 has recovered information regarding both...

  • Tracing the Emergence of Maya Lordship at Secondary Centers of the Copan Polity: An Examination of Residential Differentiation and Access at Centers in the Cucuyagua and El Paraiso Valleys (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Erlend Johnson. Ellen Bell. Marcello Canuto.

    In this paper we contend that Copan fundamentally transformed the political structures and social institutions of centers in outlying areas as it expanded and integrated these regions. Evidence from our areas of study, the Cucuyagua and El Paraiso valleys, suggest that these regions had long lived autocthonous populations prior to Copan’s expansion into these regions in the Late Classic period. Using evidence from other non-Maya sites in Western and Central Honduras we contend that while varied...