Among the many inscribed objects found at Copan are a number of so-called stone “incensarios” – small lidded vessels bearing elaborate iconography that served as containers for ritual incense burners of ceramic. The ancient Maya of Copan called these small monuments sak lak tuunoob’, “white dish stones.” Many remain poorly published, unfortunately, although in the coming months I hope to present some of these here on Maya Decipherment.
One of these intriguing vessels is CPN 217, found during excavations near the Hieroglyphic Stairway in the 1930s or 40s, when it was was photographed by archaeologist Edwin Shook (decades later, in 1990, Ed kindly gave me a copy of his snapshot, which I reproduce here). At some point its pieces were taken to a storage area near the entrance of the ruins, where in 1986 I photographed and made the accompanying field drawing. Today most of these fragments are in safe keeping at the storeroom of the Centro Regional de Investigaciones Arqueologicas (CRIA) at Copan.
The short inscription is beautifully carved in crisp fashion, reading:
Wuk Lamat Waklajuun(-te’) Suutz’
(On) Seven Lamat, the Sixteenth of Sotz’
(is) his year
There are two U- signs used here. One in the second glyph block is the so-called “xok” fish head variant (a beautiful example of the very same head sign in the photo banner of this blog). In the same middle glyph block the number “13” (uxlajuun) is written is a somewhat unusual manner, with the three dots for 3 (ux) above the skull for 10 (lajuun).
Overall, the simple text marks the thirteenth vague (360-day) year anniversary of the crowning of Copan’s famous king, Waxaklajuun Ubaah K’awiil (otherwise known by the misleading nickname “18 Rabbit”). Its dedication date corresponds to 18.104.22.168.8 in the Long Count (26 April, 708), or precisely 13.0.0 after the king’s accession, recorded prominently on the Hieroglyphic Stairway as well as on Stela J.
22.214.171.124.8 7 Lamat 1 Mol (accession date)
126.96.36.199.8 7 Lamat 16 Sotz’
CPN 217 is among the earliest of the stone vessels known from Copan. The majority date from a century or so later, to the reign of the last king Yax Pahsaj Chan Yopaat.
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