Tracing Pathways of Power, Identity, and Landscape at Río Amarillo, Copan Valley, Honduras


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 the relationship between Río Amarillo and Copan, and the relationship between Río Amarillo and its environment from the Late Classic to the Postclassic period. The presence of Copan’s power within the town of Río Amarillo is most visibly evidenced by a seventh-century altar that mentions Ruler 12, and later by the construction of a building bearing mosaic sculptures linked to Ruler 16. Both this latter structure and a censer lid found by PARAC recall the founder of Copan’s Maya dynasty, K’inich Yax K’uk’ Mo’, who was clearly revered by at least some portion of the Río Amarillo population. Analysis of sediment and botanical samples has also provided insight into the types of crops grown around the site and consumed by its inhabitants.

Cite this Record

Tracing Pathways of Power, Identity, and Landscape at Río Amarillo, Copan Valley, Honduras. Cameron McNeil, Edy Barrios, Bryce Brown, Richard Terry, Shanti Morell-Hart. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431174)


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): 16674