National Geographic : 1991 Sep
drawings,we started to remove the wall. Behind it we found some loose rubble,which hadbeen dumped around a crude niche made of small stones. Inside, on the first of June-the very day we hadplanned to end our season's excavations-we found the most spectacular ceremonial offering ever unearthedat Copan. Over the next nine days we carefully recorded and removed three chert Maya Artistry Unearthed knives, one jade bead, one stingrayspine, three spiny oyster shells, and many small shark vertebrae.But most exciting of all were nine "eccentric flints," or intricate chert sculptures (above left, one is held by Ricardo)-some of brilliant craftsmanship-with scraps of cloth wrapping still clinging to them. Now we had truly run out of time. The rainswere upon us, andsealing the outer building,what we call Structure 16,* was as importantas finding the offering. Our crews raised wooden trays of mortar (above), and we closed our tunnels for 1990. * See "Copan: City of Kings and Commoners," by George E. Stuart, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, October 1989.