View of the jungle and mountains from the ruins of Copan
(from Wikipedia) The fertile Copán River valley was long a site of agriculture before the first known stone architecture was built in the region about the 9th century BC.
A kingdom seems to have been established in Copán in 159. It grew into one of the most important Maya sites by the 5th century. Large monuments dated with hieroglyphic texts were erected in the city from 435 through 822.
Xukpi was one of the more powerful Maya city states, a regional power, although it suffered a catastrophic defeat at the hands of its former vassal state Quirigua in 738, when the long-ruling Xukpi ruler Uaxaclajuun Ub'aah K'awiil (18 Rabbit) was captured and beheaded by Quirigua's ruler K'ahk' Tiliw Chan Yopaat (Cauac Sky). Though Copán's rulers began to build monumental structures again within a few decades, both cities withered in the face of unsustainable population growth bringing about the depletion of natural resources, factors that brought several of the Classic-Age Maya city-states to their end. The area continued to be occupied after the last major ceremonial structures and royal monuments were erected, but the population declined in the 8th century - 9th century from perhaps over 20,000 in the city to less than 5,000.
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