Copán ranks among the most important of Maya sites for many reasons, but foremost among these is its vast number of hieroglyphic texts. For its relative small size (many other sites in the Maya lowlands are physically larger), the amount of inscribed materials at Copán are truly astounding, suggesting that in some way the elite culture of this ancient kingdom was particularly interested in literate culture and whatever that entailed. It comes as little surprise, therefore, that Copán has long been a focus of intensive epigraphic investigation. The large number of texts at Copán, nearly all on large stone stelae or altars, have given scholars a large amount of texts to be compared and studied, and these texts have played a significant role in the overall effort to break the Maya code. Recently, this great progress in deciphering Copán's inscriptions has not only revealed surprising facts about the local royal history, featuring the rituals and reigns of individual kings over a four-hundred year period, but it has also opened several doors on Maya culture as a whole.
Text from a 1996 article by David Stuart. View a 3D model of Altar Q