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New Additions to The Kings of Copan

Additional information has come to light since the publication of The Kings Of Copan In Their Own Words.The first is a paper by Christian Prager and Elisabeth Wagner on the step under Temple 11.Their work proves it was commissioned by the 8th king, Wi Yohl Kinich, and not the 10th king, Moon Jaguar.The second are the actual drawings of the glyphs from stelae M and N.Finally, a vase was discovered in a newly opened section of the Copan Principal Group which bears text relating to Eighteen Rabbit.These additions by themselves are not enough to publish a second edition but surely more data will arrive to justify that.  Sorry about the sidebar cutting off the right hand side of the illustrations.


Burial Vase

A vase was found by the Japanese Project in a burial in a newly opened compound just north of the great plaza.It shows Eighteen Rabbit with courtiers and perhaps prisoners on one side and a band of ten glyphs on the reverse.The vase is now in the village museum.A display at the site offers a photographic reproduction which is not as clear as a line drawing.

Not all the glyphs can be decyphered from this reproduction but B2-B3 is Eighteen Rabbit’s name.David Stuart, according to the sign board has found a phrase “lord of five captives.”


CPN 18R vase text.JPG



Temple 11 sub step (CPN 3033)

Temple 11, like all of the Copan acropolis, was built upon prior structures.One of the structures beneath this temple has a relatively well preserved step which was attributed in 1991 to Moon Jaguar[1].However, a later paper by Christian Prager and Elisabeth Wagner in 2008 has revised this interpretation and placed this step in the reign of Wi Yohl Kinich.Their research is the basis for the translation presented here.

The text of this step does not contain a date.Various dates have been suggested on the basis of style and paleography, but the earliest suggestion only goes back to 564 CE which is in the middle of Moon Jaguar’s reign.The text itself, however, points to Wi Yohl Kinich.

A1-B1 is the standard dedicatory introduction “It is hereby dedicated” with B1 the God N dedication verb.A2-B2 should be the structure or object dedicated which in this case is the building to which this step provides entry.In this case it refers to a tomb or shrine, presumably for the body of Waterlily Jaguar[2].C1-D1 is katun ahau or “20 year lord” followed at C2 by his name Waterlily Jaguar.

D2-E1 is “it is he who is the successor” of Waterlily Jaguar, followed at F1-F2 by Wi Yohl Kinich.G1-G2 is “the son of the 20 year incense scatterer, lord of Copan”.The term “incense scatterer” is a frequent title for Copan kings.This phrase establishes Wi Yohl Kinich as the son and direct heir of Waterlily Jaguar.H2-I1 is “incense entered the holy shrine.”J1 is yo-otot-te or “it is the house” followed by a list of kings up to Muyal Jol, the 6th king.Prager and Wagner interpret yo-otot-te as “homestead” referring to the entire acropolis[3], but the literal term “house” may be more accurate, referring to the dynasty rather than a place.

I2-N2 lists the dynasty up to the point of this dedication.I2-J2 is Kinich Yax Kuk Mo.K1 is Popol Hol.L1 is Ya Ha.K2 is Cu Ix.L2 is defaced but logically must be the name of the 5th king, Yu Jol To, whom Mark Zender has tentatively identified as Yuh Chan Ahk[4].M1-N1 is Muyal Jol.M2-N2 is the title that summarizes them all, “sun lords of the west kaloomte.”The term “west kaloomte” is frequently used at Copan to refer to Yax Kuk Mo who came from the west, having received his regalia of office at the great city of Teotihuacan.In the context of this step, however, “west kaloomte” may refer to the rulers of Teotihuacan, proclaiming the legitimacy of the entire dynasty up to that point.

CPN 10L-11 sub step.JPG

Stela M

Stela M was dedicated just after the completion of the Hieroglyphic Stairway.Stela M has 39 glyphs on its back side.A1 is the introductory glyph.B1-A3a is the dedication date 9.16.5.0.0 8 Ahau 8 Sotz or April 10, 756.A3b is the Lord of the Night, G9.B3 is “it is 5 days since the new moon, the 5th lunation”.A4 names the deity for that moon and B4a identifies it as a 30 day moon.B4b is “it was planted into the ground” and A5 is the name of the stela.

B5-A6 are not clear but most likely are titles for the king who is named on B6-B7a: “sacred blood lord, Kak Yipyaj Chan Kawil, holy blood lord of Copan”.B7b is a distance number “3 winals, 2 tuns” or “in 2 years and 3 months it will happen”.A8 is unclear. A8a-b appears to be aj-cho naj-li.A8c-d is sotz or xu over something containing fire or smoke.B8 appears to be a dedication of the stone.A9-B9 is “3 days and 3 years it came to pass and then it was opened in the south and then it was closed”.This phrase must refer to the cache under stela N, which is southwest of stela M but the exact reference to south is not understood.A10-B10 are eroded.


Stela N

Stela N stands front and center before temple 11.In the tradition of stelae 3, 5, and C, on one side is depicted Kak Yipyaj and on the other side is his father, Kak Joplaj.Around the base are four strips of stone laid like strips of cloth binding which contain more glyphs

The text begins on the east side with the introductory glyph at A1.A2-A7 is the date 9.16.10.0.0 1 Ahau or March 15, 761.A8 is the 9th Lord of the Night.A9-A10 is sometimes given as “the edge of the book”[5] but could also be “by the book of the Gods” which could be a reference that already by this time the scribes were losing their language skills and had to refer to a codex.

A11-A13 is “it was the first lunation, the name of the presiding god was Mih-K’uh Chapat.A14 is “it was a 30 day moon”.A15 is the haab month Sip.It is written 8 but it should be 3.A16 is “it was planted in the ground”.A17-A20 is too effaced to read but should be the name of the stela and its purpose as the banner stone of the king.

The text continues on the west side. B1-B4 are titles of the king.B1 is ya-nik-te-wi which is “his or he is the flower”.B2 is ?-nah-chan which appears to be the “house of the snake”.This certainly could not be the Chan dynasty of Calakmul, but this chan is not one of the 9 houses represented on the frieze of the Popol Nah.B3-B4 is “father god”.B5-B8 is “sacred Kak Yipyaj Chan Kawil, holy blood lord of Copan”.Then the text looks far back into the mythical past B9-B14: “it was the count of 0 kins, 0 winals,10 tuns, 14 katuns, 17 baktuns, and 14 kalabtuns ago” which is 167,090 years!B15-B17 is “it happened on 1 Ahau 8 Chen”.B18 is “the stone wrapping by the resplendent”.The remaining two glyphs are unreadable.





[1] Copan Note #102.

[2] Prager & Wagner, p. 6-7.

[3] Prager & Wagner, p. 10.

[4] Searched at www.mesoweb.com under “Copan Ruler 5”.

[5] Manual, p. 357.

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