The Mayan Temazcal in Copán
The Classic period site of Copán was home to one of the most advanced Mayan kingdoms in their history. It’s sometimes known as the Art City and the level of artistic expression is unmatched elsewhere. Copán features an extremely complex system of hieroglyphs – the Hieroglyphic Stairway has 2200 glyphs that together form the longest Mayan hieroglyphic text yet discovered. Along with the incredibly well-preserved, painted temple Rosalila, a wide ballcourt, multiple pyramids, a massive residential complex and the famous stelae & altars scattered throughout, Copán really can’t be beat for awe-inspiring sights.
We spent a full day wandering the site, wondering what it was like between the 5th and 9th centuries AD when the city was flourishing and the 25,000 residents went about their daily lives. Along a jungle-covered path on the edge of the main courtyard, we came across the remnants of a Temazcal – a Mayan sauna or sweat lodge. Sandra took the opportunity to get out of the heat, relaxing after a few hours of temple climbing in the Honduran sun. Imagine this place covered in thatched roof and filled with hot water, allowing the Maya to reconnect with the regenerative powers of the earth that was such a strong part of their culture. Along with artists, Copán had a large population of healers, a tradition that continues as the Temazcal remains an important aspect of modern Mayan life in Central America.
I’ll share a lot more from the amazing Copán in upcoming posts. For now, here are a couple shots to give you that daydream feeling for a Friday afternoon.
Copán Ruinas, Honduras, 2011.