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Copan Ruinas Mayan Stelae 12 during the Spring Equinox sunrise with Sacrificial Stone Altar in Foreground erected by Smoke Jaguar Astroarcheology archeoastronomy
The vernal equinox sunrise as viewed from Copan stelae 12. One can see that the shadow cast by stelae 12 during the equinox sunrise falls directly upon the round sacrifical stones in the foreground. Stelae 12 is located several Km east of the ruins and served as boundary marker and as a Mayan sacrificial altar. Malmstrom noted that Stelae 12 and 10 were located to the east and west of the Copan site, 7 km apart, on a line that marks the equinox sunset on the west and sunrise on the east. From stelae 12, one can see the sun set behind stelae 10 on April 12, which is the date set by the Mayan priests to begin planting preparations for corn.
The 13th succesor, Smoke-Imix-God K (Smoke-Jaguar) was the 12th ruler of Copan and he erected and is memorialized on stelae 12. There is very little compiled information on stelae 12 on the internet, so I have included the following quote:
"City of Kings and Commoners: Copan"
by George E. Stuart
in "National Geographic Magazine" (October 1989, pp. 488-505)
On or about October 14, A.D. 652, Lord Smoke Imix, the Sun
King, 12th in the royal succession, ordered that four carved
stone monuments be placed at widely separated points on the upper
slopes of the Copan Valley in what is now western Honduras. His
reason for this action is unknown. Some experts believe that the
stelae marked astronomical alignments; others, that Smoke Imix
wished to reinforce his ancestral identity with the sacred
mountains surrounding his capital; and still others, that they
simply helped to define the king's domain.
One--labeled Stela 12 in the catalog of the monuments of
ancient Copan--stands solitary on the heights about two miles
east of the modern town. Whenever I am there, I make the trek to
that windblown summit, for I know of no other place in the realm
of the Maya where one can behold in a single sweep the loveliest
of landscapes and so many tangible reminders of the 3,000 years
of human culture that played out upon it.
Here, inscribed in stone, is the most complete chronology of
a Maya royal house. And here, as nowhere else, continuing work
in deciphering the hieroglyphs and artistic symbolism of the Maya
has been matched by that seeking to unveil the finer points of
their society and its everyday life.
If you stand by Stela 12 and know just where to look, you
will spot Stela 10 across the widest part of the valley, about
level with the eye. Like a tiny grain of rice on end, it appears
all but lost amid the fields and foliage. Lower, near the river,
red-tile roofs and white stucco define the living town of Copan
The clump of dark forest on the near side of town shrouds
the most extraordinary feature of the whole valley--the soaring
Acropolis of ancient Copan, a royal city of the Classic Maya
(A.D. 250 to 900), whose ornate buildings and sculptures, even in
ruin, make it one of the greatest treasuries of art and architec-
ture in all the Americas.
Archaeologists refer to the Acropolis and the platforms,
pyramids, stairways, and plazas that adjoin it as the Main Group
of Copan. The Main Group also holds what art historian Linda
Schele calls "a forest of kings"--stone figures, larger than
life, of Copan's greatest rulers, portraits sculptured almost in
the full round and so laden with the symbols of ancient power
politics and the complex ideology behind it that, even to the
layperson, Copan's art seems unique.
The dirt road to stellae 12 requires either 4-wheel drive or horseback. Furthermore, the final ascent is guarded by a locked gate, so one must obtain permission and a key to enter. To obtain this particular photograph, we left out hotel in Copan at 5:30 AM.
The National Road (Cumberland Road)
The National Road or Cumberland Road was one of the first major improved highways in the United States to be built by the federal government. Construction began in 1811 at Cumberland, Maryland, on the Potomac River. It crossed the Allegheny Mountains and southwestern Pennsylvania, reaching Wheeling, Virginia (now West Virginia) on the Ohio River in 1818. Plans were made to continue through St. Louis, Missouri, on the Mississippi River to Jefferson City, Missouri, but funding ran out and construction stopped at Vandalia, Illinois in 1839.
A chain of turnpikes connecting Baltimore, Maryland, to the National Road at Cumberland was completed in 1824, forming what is referred to as an eastern extension of the National Road. In 1835 the road east of Wheeling was turned over to the states for operation as a turnpike. It came to be known as the National Pike, a name also applied to the Baltimore extension. The modern U.S. Route 40 between Baltimore and Cumberland continues to use the name Baltimore National Pike today, and a spur into the Washington, D.C. area (part of Interstate 270) is known as the Washington National Pike.
The approximately 620-mile (1000 km) road provided a connection between the Potomac and Ohio Rivers and a gateway to the West for thousands of settlers. It was the first road in the U.S. to use the new macadam road surfacing.. Today the alignment is mostly followed by U.S. Highway 40. The full road, including extensions east to Baltimore and west to St. Louis, was designated "The Historic National Road", an All-American Road, by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta in 2002.
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