K'inich Popol Hol

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K'inich Popol Hol
2nd king of Copan
Reign >435-470[citation needed]
Predecessor K'inich Yax K'uk' Mo'
Successor Ruler 3
Died 470[citation needed]

K'inich Popol Hol was a king of the Maya city of Copán. Popol Hol's main achievement was to cement the mythology and institutions of Central Peten kingship at Copan, which lasted 400 years. He was co-ruler with his father for the baktun (calendrical period) ending rites of December 9, 435 as shown on the Motmot Marker (a structure in Structure 10L-26). He declared himself the son of Yax Kuk Mo on Stela 63 and he claimed succession as the second king of Copan on the Xukpi Stone.


Popol Hol was a major builder. He planned the layout of the Copan acropolis, grand plaza, ballcourt, and temples with his father. He buried his father in the Hunal structure that had been his home and court and built over it the Yehnal temple to honor him. Later he built the Margarita temple over Yehnal. Both were decorated with stucco images of Yax Kuk Mo's name in a determined effort to create a cult of personality and aura of sanctity around his father which he and his progeny would inherit and thus justify their dynastic rule.

Popol Hol also finished the ballcourt and built the Papagayo temple over his father's Motmot temple. He was careful, however, to preserve the Motmot shrine and place stela 63 inside it. In addition to the Motmot Marker, the Xukpi Stone, and stela 63, Popol Hol is responsible for stela 28 and probably stelae 50, 53, and 20 and he appears with his father on stela 35. He also commissioned Altar A' which commemorates the completion of Yehnal in 441.

Popol Hol's body has not been found. Burial 95-1 is a candidate but intriguing excavations are ongoing under the Oropendola temple where another ancient burial has been found.


A reasonable timeline for the life of Popol Hol, based on the evidence so far, is:

Years Event
410-416 Birth
432-434 Motmot burial
430-435 Accession to co-ruler
435 Baktun ending ceremonies with his father
437 Death of Yax Kuk Mo
437 Xukpi stone
437-441 Yehnal constructed
441 Altar A'
443-446 Motmot marker
440-450 Margarita constructed
455 Stela 50
465 Papagayo constructed
465 Stela 63
460-470 Tzapah platform and Chilan constructed
470 Death


  • Andrews, E. Wyllys & Fash, William, eds: Copan: History of an Ancient Maya Kingdom. 2005
  • Bell, Ellen et al.: Understanding Early Classic Copan. 2004 Copan Notes #56, 70, 82, 96, 113, 114, 116, 117.
  • Morley, Sylvanus: An Introduction to the Study of the Maya Hieroglyphs. 1975.
  • Sharer, Robert: Early Copan Acropolis Program 1995-1997.
  • Van Cleve, Janice: Who Was Popol Hol? 2014
  • Van Cleve, Janice: The Founder - The Life of Yax Kuk Mo, Mover and Shaker in the Maya World. 2013