The Beverly Hills of Copán – Las Sepulturas & El Puente Archaeological Sites, Honduras

This post is part 4 of 4 in the series Copán Archaeological Site, Honduras

The Copán archaeological site is one of the top tourist attractions in Honduras and for good reason. Sadly, only a fraction of the visitors to Copán visit a little gem of a site located right next door called Las Sepulturas, which was the Beverly Hills of Copán.

Guide - Las Sepulturas, Copan, Honduras

Mr. Perez, our guide at Las Sepulturas archaeological site in Honduras, pointed out all the quirks and customs that existed in this residential area of the Mayan city of Copán.

We’ve visited more than 60 Mayan sites and wandered around the residential areas at many of them. However, we never understood or appreciated the intricacies of day-to-day Mayan life until we visited Las Sepulturas with Mr. Perez who has worked with archaeologists at the site for years and works as a guide in his free time (+ 502 9699 5647, Spanish only).

The world’s first do-not-disturb signs

Mr. Perez told us that having mistresses was de rigeur for the upper class of Copán, but how can you keep your other wives and mistresses from walking in on you having sex? One of the nobles who lived at Las Sepulturas was famed leader 18 Rabbit who was believed to have had at least 15 concubines.

To avoid awkward situations, the Mayans invented what must be the world’s first do-not-disturb signs which they hung in front of their houses to make it clear that they were busy.

Houses of elite - Las Sepulturas, Copan, Honduras

Las Sepulturas was home to the upper class of the Mayan city of Copán and their houses were built and decorated accordingly.

relief decoration - Las Sepulturas, Copan, Honduras

Fancy relief work like this stone carving was found in the homes of Las Sepulturas where the upper class of the Mayan city of Copán lived.

Bizarre burial rites

Las Sepulturas means The Tombs because the residents (and, perhaps, all Mayans) had some pretty quirky burial customs which dictated the position of the corpse (fetal, laying down, standing up, etc) and the cardinal point it was meant to face.

At Las Sepulturas human remains have been found in special tombs built under beds and buried in courtyards around the houses of Las Sepulturas. One woman believed to have been of very  high rank was found buried in a standing position underneath a central plaza.

Bed - Las Sepulturas, Copan, Honduras

This stone structure covered in layers of plaster was a bed. It would have been covered with a mattress made from fluffy fibers produced by the sacred ceiba tree and maybe even draped with a jaguar skin. Family members were buried under beds like this which gives the Las Sepulturas site its name.

Mayan home improvement

Red dye - Las Sepulturas, Copan, Honduras

Crushed leaves give up a natural red dye which the Mayans used to color the plaster they applied throughout the homes in the Las Sepulturas archaeological site.

Mayans were as clever with their homes as they were with their temples, calendars, stele, and stairways. Mr. Perez pointed out the smoothness and durability of original plaster work, some of which is still visible, explained how the Mayans used the cotton-like fluff produced by the sacred ceiba tree (also called a cotton tree) to make mattresses and pillows (which were sometimes covered with jaguar pelts), and demonstrated how the leaves of another tree were crushed to created a vibrant red dye that was used like paint. The homes in Las Sepulturas even had indoor bathrooms with intricate drainage systems.

relief decoration - Las Sepulturas, Copan, Honduras

More relief decoration inside the remains of a nobleman’s home in the Las Sepulturas archaeological site in Honduras.

Structures - Las Sepulturas, Copan, Honduras

The remains of structures at the Las Sepulturas archaeological site in Honduras where the upper class from the Mayan city of Copán lived.

Las Spulturas travel tips: You can easily walk to the Las Sepulturas site from the Copán site and your Copán ticket gets you in.

The El Puente archaeological site

The El Puente archaeological site is another stop that will enhance your understanding of Copán. About 40 miles (60 kilometers) from Copán, El Puente is the second largest Mayan site in Honduras (after Copán) with more than 200 structures, though less than 10 are excavated. Archaeologists tell us that El Puente was it’s own city but was eventually absorbed into Copán.

El Puente Mayan site, Honduras

Only a handful of the 200+ structures at the El Puente archaeological site in Honduras have been excavated.

We parked at the entrance, toured the small museum then walked about half a mile (1 kilometer) down a pleasant dirt road between fields to reach the small excavated plaza of El Puente.

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2 Comments

  1. Wilson April 4, 2012 at 9:31 pm - Reply

    Excelent thanks for showing to the world our treasures

  2. Mary April 6, 2012 at 5:16 pm - Reply

    The carvings in the stones are incredible! Thanks for sharing this!

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