Stela D

Copan: Stela D [January 9, 2004]

"Yet 18-Rabbit's reign also marks a turning point in Copan's history, a paradoxical moment of splendor and immanent decline. His career spans the end of the Middle Classic and the formative years of the Late Classic Period, when Copan began its greatest phase of demographic and political growth. Like Smoke-Imix, 18-Rabbit reigned for an exceptional number of years, and the pattern of his activities implies that he shared his predecessor's ambition to expand on the powers and prestige of his office. Under his patronage, the arts flourished as never before, and he is credited with constructing many of the site's greatest architectural works: the final construction phase of the Ball Court, Temple 22, and the city's northern expanse of plazas.

However, 18-Rabbits regency also signals the beginning of trends that would eventually lead to the excesses and environmental difficulties of the later eighth century, including overpopulation and political unrest. The projects of his career...suggest that 18-Rabbit was a showman, an ambitious king who built on the attraction that opulent art and religious spectacle could provide for his capital city. Yet his flamboyance and self-confidence may also have led to his downfall, precipitating his conflict with Quirigua and resulting in the defeat of his kingdom and his own death on the sacrificial stone."

Elizabeth Newsome, Trees of Paradis and Pillars of the World: The Serial Stela Cycle of '18-Rabbit-God K,' King of Copan, p. 48