Temple 11

The South Side of Temple 11, Copan, Honduras

Yax Pac, the last great king of Copan, came to the throne amid impending ecological disaster. "At least twenty thousand people were trying to eke out a living from the badly strained resources. This population simply could not be supported by local agriculture alone, especially since the best land was buried under the expanding residential complexes around the Acropolis.

The quality of life, which was never very good in the preindustrial cities of the ancient world, fast deteriorated toward the unbearable in Copan under the pained gaze of its last great king. Through the building [of Temple 11] and the Otherworld portal it housed at the junction of its dark corridors, Yax-Pac began his lifelong effort to ward off the impending disaster than hung over the valley.

We are not sure of the exact starting date for the construction [of Temple 11], but work on it must have begun in the first few years of Yax-Pac's reign. Six years later, on March 27, 769, following the celebration of the equinox, Yax-Pac dedicated the Reviewing Stand on the south side of the Temple. This Reviewing Stand faced the inner court and temples of his forebearers which studded the West Court of the Acropolis. Built against the first terrace of the pyramid that would eventually support Temple 11, the Reviewing Stand was a metaphorical Xibalban Ballcourt..."

Linda Schele & David Freidel, A Forest of Kings: The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya, p. 322