Copan, a small town of Honduras, Central America, in the department of Gracias, 120 m. W. by N. of Comayagua, on a river of the same name, an affluent of the Motagua. It gives its name to the wonderful ruins in its vicinity, the remains of an ancient city, which cover a densely wooded tract more than 2 m. in length along the banks of the stream.

A Fallen Idol at Copan.

A Fallen Idol at Copan.

Among them are the walls of a vast building, 624 ft. long, supposed to have been a temple, a plaza paved with well squared stones, a tower or terrace with a grand stairway of many steps descending to the river, colossal monolithic statues elaborately carved, and other sculptures. These ruins excited the wonder of the Spanish conquerors, who sought in vain to learn something of their origin from the natives. They were described with great accuracy in 1576 by the licentiate Palacios. A full account of them is given in Stephens's "Central America." (See American Antiquities).