09 May 2011
Maya Sunrise/Sunset Hike
($15.00 per person, 2 person minimum)
These mystical hikes will transport you back in time to witness the sunrise and/or sunset over classic Maya stelae hidden in the mountains above the Ruins. Stelae 10 & 12 were placed by the classic Maya to align with the sun to help time the planting of crops.
Both are a one-hour hike from the central park. The Maya Sunrise hike leaves at 4:00 a.m., and climbs to the Stela 12, near the village of La Pintada.The Maya Sunset hike leaves at 4:00 p.m., and ascends to Stela 10, near the village of Hacienda Grande.
Many visitors opt to do both hikes the same day! The stunning views and mystical aura combine for an unforgettable experience.
The HIStory of Stela 10 & Stela 12
Stela 10 is a Copán monolith with inscriptions on all four sides. Its dedication date is carved on the north side. The stela is 3 meters (10 feet) tall, 66 cms. (26 inches) wide, and 43 cms. (17 inches) thick. It is located in the hills 4.5 km. (3 miles) west of the principal Copán ruins, and is 288 meters (945 feet) above the main plaza of the principal ruins.
Stela 10 had a very significant relationship with Stela 12, which lies 2.5 kms. (1.5 miles) to the east and 188 meters (617 feet) above the principal ruins. This stela is 3.35 meters (10.7 feet) tall, 61 cms. (24 inches) wide, and 52 cms. (20 inches) thick. It has hieroglyphics on all four sides, and much red paint. The dedication date, on the east side, is 188.8.131.52.0 . Stelae 10 and 12 were discovered by Juan Galindo in 1834.
With the assistance of an astronomer, the renowned Maya archaeologist Morley suggested an intriguing relationship between Stelae 10 & 12. According to his calculations, if one stands in front of Stela 12, and looks west toward Stela 10, the sun will set directly over Stela 10 two days every year, April 12 and September 7.
Morley interpreted the April date as the moment indicated by the Maya to burn their croplands, in preparation for planting crops. Thus these two stelae functioned as a watch, or calendar, marking the day to start the burning.
Morley offered another intriguing observation about these stelae: it is known that both stelae are in their original locations, and that both predate the principal ruins in the valley. Based on this, Morley surmised that the imaginary line that directly unites these stelae, and which passes just south of the Acropolis in the principal ruins, could have served as the basis for planning the principal ruins and for orienting the structures.