Piecing Together the Life History of K’ahk’ Uti’ Witz’ K’awiil

Author(s): William Fash

Year: 2017


Copan's longest-lived ruler dramatically expanded his realm, reach, and resources. The valley population nearly doubled, and the historical record indicates he was active in the ritual and political lives of other centers both near to home and farther afield. Ruler 12 contextualized his defensive perimeter within the sacred geography of the valley by erecting six stelae in 652 C.E. His successor enshrined that achievement and his memory in the most elaborately decorated temple outside the royal precinct, at the site of Rastrojón (6N-1), which formed part of that circuit. The first version of the Hieroglyphic Stairway was built above his elaborate tomb, securing his legacy in the royal center as well. Yet despite his 67 year reign, Ruler 12's constructions in the Acropolis are relatively modest in scale and elaboration. This focus on external affairs and the eschewing of grandiose public works in the royal precinct suggest a leader who was comfortable both in his own skin, and in the façades and facilities constructed by his predecessors. While Ruler 12's earliest stelae are rather austere, in old age and after death he was depicted in Central Mexican garb, a possible clue about his political philosophy.

Cite this Record

Piecing Together the Life History of K’ahk’ Uti’ Witz’ K’awiil. William Fash. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431159)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14579