This smaller residential complex is connected to the main group by a sacbe, or elevated causeway, running through the forest. This path is closed to visitors and so you must exit the archaeological site and head up the main road for two kilometers toward San Pedro Sula. You’ll see a sign on the right (bring your admission ticket, as you’ll need it to get in).
Las Sepulturas was ignored by archaeologists earlier in Copán’s history but recent work here has revealed some information about the daily lives of the city’s ancient inhabitants. Meaning “the tombs,” the complex was named by local farmers who uncovered the remains of long-departed Mayan nobles who had been buried here.
This area is not of much interest to the casual visitor, though you might like walking along the quiet forest trails. Little remains of the original structures. An exception is the Hieroglyphic Wall found on Structure 83, comprising a group of 16 glyphs telling about events in the rule of Yax Pac and dating to A.D. 786. This site contains the remains of the Palacio de los Bacabs (Palace of the Officials), which is thought to have once housed 250 nobles. Only 18 of about 40 residential compounds have been excavated.
In Las Sepulturas’s Plaza A, archaeologists uncovered the tomb of a shaman from about A.D. 450, which can be seen in the town’s Museo Regional de Arqueología. Traces of human settlement have been found here dating to 1,000 B.C., long before the Copán dynasty’s rise to power.
© Al Argueta from Moon Guatemala, 3rd Edition. Photos © Al Argueta www.alargueta.com