Hieroglyphic Court

The Court of the Hieroglyphic Staircase

The hieroglyphic staircase is the longest known Mayan hieroglyphic inscription, tracing the lineage of Copan's kings back to the founder, Yax Kuk Mo. Its inscriptions are more worn-down than those on most of the stelae and, in order to prevent further erosion, it is now protected by an enormous tarpaulin.

Stela M and its associated altar stand at the foot of the staircase,
it is a portrait of the fifteenth ruler of Copan, "Smoke Shell" who
also finished and dedicated the hieroglphic staircase. Stela M
was dedicated in 756 A.D. (, three years after the dedication of the staircase.


The altar of Stela M, doubleheaded as is usual.

The temple structure at the top of the hieroglypic staircase.

A panoramic view from the top of the hieroglyphic staircase
from the "Popul Nah" (cf. Eastern Court) on the right to
Stela N at the lower left.

A panoramic view of the staircase court from Stela N at the foot
of the huge stairway leading to the top of Structure 11, to Stela 1
at the edge of the western building adjacent to the ballcourt.

Between Stela N and the hieroglyphic staircase, toward the top
of Temple 11's stairway sits an enormous head of a "Pauhatun"
one of the four elderly deities who support the world.


The two photographs below are links to pages considering each stela in some detail.

Stela N

Stela 1

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