Str. 22a

Copan: Str. 22A, the Popol Nah or Council House [January 9, 2004]

"The implications of Structure 10L-22A for the study of Maya statecraft and political evolution are twofold. First, they suggest that governors and subsidiary lords were of sufficient importance to wield strong authority in the fate of large Classic Maya city-states, particularly in political crisis. Second, if one of the fundamental characteristics of statehood is the separation of political institutions from kinship lines, then from AD 746, if not before, Copán was at that stage of development. The statesmen are identified not by their personal names, but rather by the name of the subdivision of the kingdom which they represent. This formal set of jurisdictions and representatives implies that Late Classic Maya political organization at Copán was moving towards more institutionalized forms of government which cut across traditional kinship lines and interests.

At this juncture, it is not possible for us to determine how successful Ruler 14's strategy was. The inscriptions tell us only that he died within three years of completing Structure 10L-22A, and was succeeded by Ruler 15 (formerly referred to as Smoke Shell). The monumental record indicates that Ruler 15's strategy was the exact opposite of the decentralized, modest work of Ruler 14. Ruler 15 poured all his efforts into the refurbishment of Structure 10L-27, including the world's largest hieroglyphic stairway. The purpose of this monument was to emphasize the glorious days (and rulers) of the kingdom, and in the process lend legitimacy to Ruler 15 himself as the sole inheritor of the supernatural and secular power of the Copán throne. Did he do this because of renewed support from the lords, won at the cost of the prestige of his predecessor? Or was Structure 10L-26 his reaction to the growing power and influence of those formerly subordinate nobles? These are among the new questions which our research has posed, and which are at present not yet resolved."

William L. Fash, Scribes, Warriors and Kings: The City of Copán and the Ancient Maya, p. 135