Image - Cacao Pod Vessel - K6706 © Justin Kerr FAMSI © 1999:
Robert J. Sharer

Early Copán Acropolis Program 1998 Field Season
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Copy of scaled drawings of carved jade artifacts from the Margarita Tomb, Copán, Honduras (original pencil drawing by Nelson Paredes, ECAP)

Research Year:  1998
Culture:  Maya
Chronology:  Early Classic
Location:  Copán, Honduras
Site:  Copán Acropolis

Table of Contents

Procedures and Facilities
Artifact Analyses
Ecofact Analyses
Architectural Analyses
Analyses in 1999-2000
Analyses Supported by other Agencies
Conclusion: The Completion of ECAP Research
List of Figures
Sources Cited


Located in western Honduras, Copán is an especially important archaeological site, due both to its status as a major capital of a Classic period Maya polity, and as the subject of one of the longest and most thorough investigations in the history of Maya studies (Fash, 1991; Sharer et al., 1998). One of the critical components of this on-going investigation is the Early Copán Acropolis Program (ECAP) of The University of Pennsylvania Museum.

ECAP has begun the critical second phase of its research at Copán, funded in large measure by The Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, Inc. (Grant 97003). The first phase of this research involved a program of excavations unique in Maya archaeology: the opening of over 3 kms of tunnels beneath the Copán Acropolis. This investigation, conducted under two five year convenios (1989-1998) between the Instituto Hondureño de Antropología e Historia (IHAH) and the University of Pennsylvania Museum, has exposed, documented, and conserved a sequence of Early Classic royal architecture on a scale never before achieved at a Maya site (Sharer et al., 1998).

The second phase of ECAP’s research is aimed at the complete documentation, conservation, and analysis of the archaeological materials recovered from these excavations. This research phase is being conducted under a new five year convenio (1998-2002) between the IHAH and the University of Pennsylvania Museum, signed and approved in 1997. This second phase is being conducted by staff members of ECAP and highly qualified professional specialists. 1   Since ECAP’s proposal to FAMSI is for three years (1998-2000) of support for documentation, conservation, and analysis, this report is actually a progress report covering the first season of work funded by Grant 97003. To do so, the present report will cover procedures and facilities, documentation, conservation, and analysis.


  1. Robert J. Sharer, Curator of the American Section of the University of Pennsylvania Museum, is ECAP Director and continues to oversee all aspects of ECAP’s research, including that reported here. ECAP Field Director is David Sedat, Research Specialist at the University of Pennsylvania Museum. Members of the ECAP staff mentioned in this report are conducting major aspects of documentation and analysis that are being supported by FAMSI Grant 97003, as are the ongoing conservation efforts made by ECAP’s professional conservators working at Copán.

    FAMSI Grant 97003 also provided compensation and material support for three Honduran staff members who are documentating excavated architecture and artifacts by preparing scaled drawings: Fernando López (Supervisor of architectural recording), Nelson Paredes (artifact drawer), and Erlin Rodríguez (architectural drawer).

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Early Copán Acropolis Program 1998 Field Season  (222 KB)

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Submitted 08/01/1998 by:

Univ. of Penn Museum, Philadelphia

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