From Rosalila to Oropendola: Unearthing Maya Secrets at Copán, Honduras
from 12:30 PM to 02:00 PM
On June 23, 1989, while directing tunnel excavations under Temple 16, at the center of the Copán Acropolis, Ricardo Agurcia F. discovered a building that would surprise Maya scholars. He gave it the field name of “Rosalila.” To date, this building represents the best example of Early Classic architecture and monumental art at Copán. Unlike most of the other buildings found buried in the Acropolis (which were systematically destroyed by the ancient Maya) Rosalila was practically intact. It had been interred with great care and its enormous modeled stucco panels, painted in deep red and accented with yellow, white and green, were embalmed with a thick layer of white stucco. Rosalila became the focus of Agurcia’s work for the next decade.
Later that year, a corner of another building was first encountered in these same tunnels by Agurcia and his team of excavators. It was named “Oropendola.” Although fairly well preserved, it was overshadowed by Rosalila and it was not until the late 90’s that Agurcia began turning his attention to it, with fieldwork on it not concluding until 2010. Oropendola proved to have a charm of its own.
This lecture will focus on the extensive research carried out over the past twenty years on these two buildings and the many surprises they held. Aside from being two of the best preserved buildings in the entire Maya area and reflecting a revolutionary transition in their external decoration, they sheltered, within them, two royal tombs.