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Belper Neighbourhood Plan Working Group c/o Belper Town Council, The Butts, Belper, Derbys. DE56 1HX

Site last updated 28-04-18

UNESCO’s Web page for DVM WHS is and gives the full information about the site

Copan meets UNESCO criteria 4 & 6

4) to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history;

6) to be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance. (The Committee considers that this criterion should preferably be used in conjunction with other criteria);

Maya Site of Copán

Discovered in 1570 by Diego García de Palacio, the ruins of Copán, one of the most important sites of the Mayan civilization, were not excavated until the 19th century. The ruined citadel and imposing public squares reveal the three main stages of development before the city was abandoned in the early 10th century. There were two reasons why the city was abandoned, one was due to over population. The people required more and more food which resulted in a fall in the fertility of land surrounding the city and the need to travel further and further to grow there food. The other was that King of Copán was by tradition a God. The King could die of natural causes, but was invincible in battle. The 14th King was killed fighting in another part of the Mayan Empire and the people lost their faith and drifted away.

The 16th King was the last king of Copán. The Mayans were clever people, who had worked out the true length of a year long before they abandoned Copán a thousand years before the Gregorian Calendar was adopted in the 18th Century in most of Europe. Some countries still use the old Julian Calendar today e.g. Ethiopia. The Ethiopian tourist board sells the country by saying “Ethiopia has 13 months of sunshine a year!”

Mayan Football pitch. Opposing teams were on the opposing sloped stonework and played the ball from side to side. A goal was scored when one side failed to return the ball to the other side.

The Captain of the winning side in intercity matches became a human sacrificed for his great skill and this was considered a great honour.

Mayan Stella - Carved stone idol