Mythological Markers, Shifting Boundaries and Exchange in the Late Classic Copan Kingdom

Author(s): William Fash; Barbara Fash

Year: 2016


Delimiting the “core” area of the Late Classic Copan kingdom may be enhanced through analysis of its shared mythology, associated with the ballgame. Placed at the geographic and social center of the royal compound, the main ballcourt of Copan established a narrative of mythological macaws, and a Macaw Mountain, that spanned the entire dynasty from the 5th-9th century CE. The geographic distribution of archaeological sites with stone macaw head ballcourt markers, all of which had Copador pottery in association, allow us to refine the consensus model of Copan’s Late Classic domain. The very large initial territory at the onset of the kingdom’s history included Quiriguá and other areas north and west of Copan, much reduced by the late 8th century as various former vassal communities declared their independence in public inscriptions. A southerly distribution of the other sites with macaw head bench markers supports ceramic evidence adduced by ceramicists that the Copan dynasty favored trading partners (and allies) to the south and east at the end of the Late Classic period. What became the final 'core' area may have been involved in procuring and trading macaw feathers, ideologically centered on a mythological--or actual--Macaw Mountain in this region.

Cite this Record

Mythological Markers, Shifting Boundaries and Exchange in the Late Classic Copan Kingdom. William Fash, Barbara Fash. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404397)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;