Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Day 45, Copan, Honduras

We are going to visit Copan in the Honduras.....hmm, our history lesson will start to help us to appreciate the Mayan culture, one of the most important in America, that flourished in the western part of Honduras, leaving many different costumes and traditions which can be traced to long times past.

Copan formed part of the three largest and most lavish cultural centers of the new world. The Mayas developed a civilization based on a complex sociopolitical structure; at the same time they incurred, with amazing dexterity, in the fields of science, mathematics and astronomy. They also developed a writting system based on hieroglyphs, which enabled the interpretation by epigraphs.

The jungle that surrounds Copán is lush, tall and filled with sounds of a variety of animals. We see monkeys, colorful guacamayas (large parrots), tree sloths and peccaries.

The many different areas of Copan offer us a feast of Mayan artifacts to discover.The detail and sheer volume of carvings and stelae are impressive; 4,509 structures have been detected with 3,450 of the structures found only 24 sq km surrounding the Principal Group!!

As one of the greatest treasures of art and architecture in the Americas, Copán is known for its beautiful temples, altars and 3 to 5 metre tall and 2 to 3 metre round stelae.
Carved in extremely intricate high relief, they are thought to be portraits of the greatest rulers in the history of the city.
Many are round on one side (the figure side) and flat on the other.
The flat sides are laden with hieroglyphs which describe the power and politics of the dignitary depicted and the ideology of the times. Impressive in detail and humbling in size, these unique sculptural monuments make Copán shine among the ruin sites of the Maya and are invaluable to our understanding of this lost civilization.

Oh dear, guys, this will have to be a very quick visit....we have just heard rumours of a civil war that may be brewing here so we do not want to be caught in a war zone....what a pity...we really would have loved to have walked through these grassy plazas filled with intricately carved and decorated monuments, statues and staircases.

The Mayan ruins of Copán are fascinating, beautiful and unique among Mayan cities. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1980, Copán contains some of the most important Mayan ruins found to date, and many unusual artistic features.
Huge carved faces stare at you from ancient walls and bring the place to life, causing renewed wonder at the mysterious disappearance of such a creative civilization.........well, we know that there are other Mayan ruins on this continent so hopefully we will be able to view at least one other one....

Hmm, Sita has some interesting info for us......the first people to predict 2012 as the end of the world were the Mayans!!

Thousands of years ago they managed to calculate the length of the lunar moon as 329.53020 days, only 34 seconds out. The Mayan calendar predicts that the Earth will end on December 21, 2012. Given that they were pretty close to the mark with the lunar cycle, is it possible that they've got the end of the world right as well????
As 21/12/12 approaches there will be much discussion around this topic...

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